Fire officials hope to name their professional development center after a man whom colleagues and relatives remember as hardworking and dedicated to self-improvement — paramedic Joshua Weissman.
The 33-year-old Bristow man died in February 2012 after plunging more than 20 feet into Four Mile Run creek from an Interstate-395 overpass during an emergency call. Despite efforts to save him, Weissman died in a Washington hospital less than 24 hours after the fall.
In the days following the fatal incident, friends, family and fellow emergency responders mourned the loss of the 7-year department veteran. Many recalled Weissman’s dogged pursuit of self-improvement, constantly studying and training colleagues.
“He did not want to be good at what he did, he wanted to be great. And he was,” wrote his wife Rebecca for Weissman’s funeral.
Fire Chief Adam Thiel initially toyed with the idea of naming the department’s forthcoming station along Eisenhower Avenue after the beloved paramedic. But friends and family changed his mind, Thiel said.
Instead, he’s asking for city council’s blessing to name the department’s professional development center at the Nannie J. Lee Recreation Center after Weissman.
“We consulted with his closest friends and colleagues here in the department and also family ... and they felt that because of his interest in training and all the work he had done through the years teaching both our medics and firefighters that that facility would be an appropriate place to name in his memory and his honor,” Thiel said. “My idea had been to do something like potentially name a new facility for Josh, but again, all these folks felt that a new place would not have meant anything to him.”
The city council naming committee agreed, unanimously recommending that Alexandria’s top elected officials approve the department’s request. City council will hold a public hearing to discuss it later this month.
Weissman’s death was the department’s first of its kind, what officials call a “traumatic death,” since 1924.