Many of the 29 were young, not even out of their teens. All but one were volunteers, motivated to serve without pay in a community institution as familiar and close to home as the neighborhood school or the corner drugstore.

They were the fallen firefighters of Prince George's County, those who died in the line of duty from Oct. 25, 1930, to Jan. 27, 1988, and they were remembered yesterday with the unveiling of a memorial tablet in Landover Hills.

They were young men, such as James W. Herbert, from Clinton, killed Oct. 23, 1971, when the engine he was riding on went out of control and overturned en route to a call. He was 18, "just a high school boy," his father, Charles, recalled. "He was just getting ready to finish school when he was killed."

And they were older men, such as Philip E. Tierney, 41, who died June 16, 1967, after suffering a heart attack at the site of a fire. He was a District government electrician whose son, Larry, then 11, attended yesterday's unveiling.

From as far away as Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and from the immediate neighborhood came friends and family of 23 of the fallen.

As each name was called, the survivors stepped forward to receive a proclamation and a framed photograph of the memorial, a bench-shaped granite marker with each of the names inscribed.

Of the total, 17 died in vehicle-related accidents, seven perished fighting a fire or performing a rescue, four suffered heart attacks and one died in a drill.

There are 1,000 volunteers and 800 career employees in the department.

Dennis Michael Boswell died Nov. 23, 1963, the day after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He was hit by a drunk driver at the scene of a fire.

A volunteer since the age of 16, he was 18 and a recent graduate of Bladensburg High School when he died. "He was heading for the Major Leagues; he was a hell of a catcher, a hell of a ballplayer," recalled Lee Owens, his chief at Tuxedo-Cheverly Company 22. "He was one of the most, if not the most, active in our company. That's what he lived for."

Two members of Congress, two County Council members and the county executive joined in the memorial ceremony under blue skies and a hot sun at the Cranford/Graves Fire Services Building, named after two of the fallen firefighters.

Joseph Cranford, 67, was 7 in 1930 when his father, Capt. B. Wesley Cranford, of the Marlboro fire company, became the first county firefighter to die in the line of duty, the victim of a traffic accident while responding to a fire alarm.

"While we were eating lunch, the siren sounded," his son recalled. "That was the last time I saw him. He lost his life on Old Ritchie Road."

Richard Whittington was 21, a printer at The Washington Post and a Clinton volunteer firefighter, when the engine in which he was riding overturned Oct. 23, 1971, killing him and James Herbert.

Whittington joined up as soon as he was 16. "He couldn't wait," his mother, May Whittington, 73, said. "That's all he wanted from {the time he was} a little boy. He used to run across the field to see where they were going.

"They said the firehouse died after he died. He was a character. He used to take his guitar and banjo down there and play and tell jokes."

And there was John A. Hamer. He was 32, a flood control engineer with the Army Department and a volunteer firefighter in Landover Hills, where his widow, Dede, still lives, in their house that caught fire Jan. 21, 1949. Hamer died 12 hours later from burns he received when he rescued his two sons from the blaze.