Coit Tower in Pioneer Park on Telegraph Hill will be illuminated in red in memory of the fallen firefighters, Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, and Anthony Valerio, 53.
The two firefighters had lost their lives while trying to extinguish a fire at the four-story home in Diamond Heights last Thursday. They are the first two to die in the line of duty in San Francisco in 10 years. Another female firefighter, whose name was not released, also was injured but she was able to exit without help.
Coit Tower is a monument dedicated to the firefighters of San Francisco. It was built in 1933 at Lillie Hitchcock Coit's behest to beautify the city of San Francisco. Coit was a wealthy socialite who loved to chase fire engines in the early days of the city's history. In her last will, she gave away one-third of her estate to the city.
Coit had a special relationship with the city's firefighters. Before December 1866, there was no real fire department. Fires in the city were extinguished by several volunteer fire companies, and Coit was recognized as an honorary firefighter throughout her youth and adulthood. From the age of fifteen, she began to help firefighters put off fire and came to be associated with the Knickerbocker Engine Co. No. 5, which had responded to a fire call up on Telegraph Hill. And even when her parents didn't agree with her to help extinguish the fire, Coit would keep jumping into action at the sound of every fire bell.
In her will, Coit desired that one-third of her fortune be expended in an appropriate manner for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city which I have always loved. Consequently, two memorials were built in Coit's name - while one was Coit Tower, the other was a sculpture depicting three firemen, one of them carrying a woman in his arms - and Coit became the matron saint of San Francisco firefighters.
Because of Coit Tower's long-associated history with the San Francisco Fire Department, it is a fitting location to offer a tribute to both the fallen firefighters who dedicated their lives protecting the people of San Francisco.
We are reminded how much the men and women of the San Francisco Fire Department have sacrificed and put their lives on the line for our City everyday, Mayor Edwin M. Lee said in a statement.
Coit Tower will be illuminated in red from Tuesday evening till Friday evening.
Apart from this memorial, a joint funeral for the firefighters also will be held at 12:30 p.m. Friday at St. Mary's Cathedral, 1111 Gough St. in San Francisco.