SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Governor Cox has ordered the flags around the state to be lowered to half-staff position starting at sunrise on Sunday, May 7. If the sound of sirens and bells catches you by surprise, you are likely not the only one.

This is the first year National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend is being held in May instead of October, and the lowered flags are a tribute to fallen firefighters as part of the national weekend.

The change in the month was part of an effort to avoid weather and government uncertainties, such as government shutdown, that often come in the fall, according to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

The weekend is dedicated to firefighters who died in the line of duty. This year, the foundation is paying tribute to 79 firefighters who died in 2022, and 65 others who died in previous years, the foundation said.

One of those firefighters is Chris Cage from Salt Lake County’s Unified Fire Authority. Cage was a retired firefighter who died from cancer in 2020 attributed to his rescue efforts on 9/11, UFA said.

The names of Cage and other firefighters across the nation who died from their service will be placed on a bronze plaque around the national monument this year, according to the foundation.

While the big commemoration will occur in Maryland at the 7-foot-tall memorial, Utah has chosen to honor the day with lowered flags at all official buildings, not just federal ones as the law mandates.

Since 2001, flags on all federal buildings must be lowered to half-staff to honor the fallen firefighters. This is part of only a few days the law requires the lowering of the flag annually, according to the foundation.

Governor Cox is encouraging private citizens, organizations, and businesses as well to follow suit.

This is one of many ways to honor the fallen first responders. The foundation also recommends ringing bells and sounding sirens on May 7 at noon. Some landmarks will also light the sky in red over the weekend. And finally, the foundation suggests signing an online remembrance banner or urging state officials to issue a proclamation.

To see a complete list of the fallen firefighters being honored this year, click here.