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The Jefferson County Journal
October 14, 2001 - Front Page

Local man is voice of firefighter tribute song

By Bill Phelan Of the Suburban Journals
Jefferson County Journal, Meramec Journal

Bergmann expects “Warriors of the Flames” to be an anthem for a long time

   Firefighters across the nation may have a new anthem and the voice behind it is a Jefferson County man.
   Chris Bergmann, 33, High Ridge, has been singing, writing and recording music since 1988, but a recording he made last year suddenly has special significance in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the U.S.
   Songwriter and former journalist Jim Likens, 53, St. Louis, wrote the lyrics for "Warriors of the Flames," a song that pays tribue to the work of firefighters.

Toby Carrig photo

Chris Bergmann, center, checks out the fire equipment at the Rock Community Fire Protection Division engine house. Bergmann sings the song, “Warriors of the Flames,” written by Jim Likens, pictured to the right of Bergmann. The two distributed CD singles to the firefighters in the district and also gave each station house a copy of the music video.

 "I was talking to an individual who was going to be doing a tribute at a big fire convention in Indianapolis for the 109 firefighters who died in 1999," Likens said.
   The individual intended to show a video accompanied by music at the convention. Likens offered to write a song for the video. "At 9 o'clock the next morning I called him up and sang him 'Warriors of the Flames,'" he said.
   Talented as Likens is, he was no singer. Enter Chris Bergmann.
   "I originally was going to sing this song," Likens said. "When we went to do the final audio mix, Chris was sitting there with his head in his hands. He said, 'Jim I love ya, but I gotta sing this song.'"
   Likens has not regretted letting Bergmann do the singing.
   Although "Warriors of the Flames" was written before the Sept. 11 attack in New York, the lyrics, the video and the CD album cover are prophetic. The opening line of the song is "From the boroughs of Manhattan." The opening shot in the video is the New York City skyline. The cover of the CD shows a dirty-faced firefighter wearing a helmet. The number on the helmet is 11.
   With the newfound respect given to firefighters these days, Warriors of the Flames is finding a new audience and getting a lot of attention. The song is getting airplay on some St. Louis radio stations and people are responding.
   "A lot of the people who hear it cry," Bergmann said.
   Likens says the song is a tribute to the bravest of Americans. "Firefighting is the world's most dangerous profession," he said. "Something like 50 percent of firefighters are injured on the job every year. When they go to work, there is a reality that they will not come home alive."
   Likens recognizes that firefighters sacrifice their lives for complete strangers.
   "Jesus said no greater love does a man have than to lay down his life for a friend, a firefighter will do it and not even ask you your name," Likens said. "That's what happened in those towers in New York City. They went in to save people, not property."
   Bergmann said he knew the minute he heard "Warriors of the Flames" it would be a hit.
   "I can tell, usually pretty quickly, if a song is good or bad," Bergmann said. "This one was written for a video so the images play in your mind when you hear the song and watch the video."
   In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, Bergmann knows a lot of songs have been written about firefighters, but he says "Warriors of the Flames" is special.
   "This is going to be the national anthem for firefighters for a long time," he said.
   In addition to an anthem, the song is also a means of raising money for firefighters and their families.
   "Fifty percent of all the proceeds from the song will go the families of fallen firefighters in New York City," said Likens.
   In two months, half the proceeds will go to the local Backstoppers organization, which helps the families of fallen firefighters and police officers.
   "Any fire company can use this as a fundraiser for their own department," Bergmann said. "We'll be happy to work with them."
   Firefighters sometimes refer to fire as "the beast." Likens says fire can also be called a terrorist.
   "When it (fire) becomes uncontrolled, it's a terrorist," he said, "and it destroys and it kills. But everyday these warriors of the flame go out and fight this terrorist called the beast."
   Likens has sent 20 copies of "Warriors of the Flames" to New York City radio stations, but he does not know if they have played it.
   "New York City is besieged right now," he said.
   The Warriors of the Flames CD and video is available at Borders Books or by calling 1-800-898-0284. You can also order online at www.warriorsoftheflames.com.
   Besides recording Warriors of the Flames, Bergmann is also lead singer for the Christian band Jordan's Creed.

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