The recent deaths of two District firefighters bring home the sad but true fact that firefighting remains a hazardous and challenging career, one that most of us take for granted ["Firefighter Killed in Blaze in D.C.," front page, May 31].

It is a sad irony that as the nation's capital honored its war dead on Memorial Day weekend, firefighters were putting their lives on the line. On this weekend for remembrance of heroes past, two brave D.C. firefighters lost their lives in service to their community. These heroes should not be forgotten either.

Each October, the nation honors the firefighters who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty during the previous year. These brave heroes, like firefighters Anthony Phillips and Louis Matthews, leave family and friends behind. In 1998, we honored another District firefighter, Sgt. John Carter.

Just as our war dead and veterans deserve every honor and remembrance we can bestow, so do the sacrifices made by the brave men and women of the fire service. Every day of the year and in every community across America they answer our calls for help when emergency strikes. Firefighters risk their lives because they care-about us and our communities.

STEVE ROBINSON

Executive Director

National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Emmitsburg, Md.