Members of the Calgary Fire Department paid tribute to their fallen comrades on the same day many paid tribute to those killed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the U.S. nearly two decades ago.
Flags at all Calgary fire stations and facilities flew at half-mast on Tuesday in honour of 47 Calgary firefighters who have died either on the job or as a result of illnesses — such as presumptive cancer or chronic health issues — related to their service.
During the ceremony at Police Officers and Firefighters Tribute Plaza, just steps from city hall, wreaths were laid at the feet of statues commemorating fallen Calgary first responders, and a moment of silence was held before the name of each fallen firefighter was read aloud.
A single bell chimed after each name.
Calgary Firefighters ring the bell during the ceremony to honor fallen firefighters in Calgary on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. Jim Wells/Postmedia
Nine names of those killed on duty are immortalized on a monument in the plaza, while 38 who died off-duty are remembered on plaques.
Two more names were added to the list this year, those of 32-year-veteran District Chief James Brosh and 34-year-veteran Capt. Paul Baker.
Both died from occupational cancers, the department said.
Calgary Police Sgt Darren Cave pauses as he looks at a plaque marking his father’s passing during the ceremony to honor fallen Calgary firefighters in Calgary on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. Cave’s father, District Chief Neville Cave, died of lung cancer and was a firefighter for over 30 years and the son, Darren, has been a police officer for over 30 yrs as well. Jim Wells/Postmedia
Kathy Blas, who laid a single rose in front of the plaque honouring her late brother, firefighter Gord Paul. Blas, said her brother died in 2007 from a brain tumour, one of the 38 firefighters killed by presumptive cancer.
Blas also helped organize the Calgary Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge, which helps raise funds for firefighters suffering from cancer.
“The reason I started it is to make people aware of what firefighters face in the line of duty,” Blas said.
Chief Steve Dongworth said the event is always emotional, especially when speaking with the families of those killed in the line of duty.
“We all feel the impact, there’s a number of people I’ve worked with who are on that list, but for all these families who lost a son or a father . . . or a grandparent …read more