By Rob Bradfield
Assistant City Editor
The White House has announced several changes to today’s memorial service that will honor the 10 firefighters killed April 17 in the West fertilizer explosion.
Doors will now open at 11 a.m. and close at 1:45 p.m. or whenever the Ferrell Center reaches capacity, which is 10,284 people. In a statement released Wednesday night, the university said it expects more than 4,000 uniformed first responders to attend and are planning for a capacity crowd.
Before the service, some 300 fire trucks and firefighters from across the United States will form a processional on University Parks Drive from Gurley Lane to Bagby Avenue and turn into the Ferrell Center parking lot. The fire trucks will depart at 10:30 a.m. and the firefighters will begin marching at 11 a.m.
Those wishing to watch the processional are urged to line the west side of University Parks Drive.
Seating for the service is on a first-come, first-served basis and attendees should expect heightened security.
Attendees are encouraged to limit personal items as there will be airport-style security. Bags, sharp objects, umbrellas, liquid, firearms and signs are prohibited, but cameras and cellphones are allowed.
Earlier today the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation confirmed the list of speakers at the service.
In addition to President Barack Obama, Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation; Chief Ernest Mitchell Jr., United States fire administrator; Bill Gardner, first vice president of the State Firemen and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas; Gov. Rick Perry; Baylor President Ken Starr; and Sen. John Cornyn will be speaking.
Parking will be restricted at the Ferrell Center.
Additional parking will be on Cottonwood Street off of University Parks Drive and in lots C and D of Floyd Casey Stadium. A shuttle will run from Floyd Casey, starting at 10 a.m.
Students unable to attend can view the ceremony in Waco Hall, the Bill Daniel Student Center, the Student Life Center and athletic venues at the Turner Riverfront Athletic Complex.
Additionally, the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation will be live streaming the service at www.firehero.org/westtexas.
Obama has also ordered that all flags on state and federal property be flown at half staff on today in memory of all those who died in the West explosion.