Your Brandon Firefighter / Paramedics honour guard took part in recognizing and honouring the line of duty death ceremony in Ottawa this past weekend.
The second Sunday in September has been recognized by the Canadian Federal Government as Firefighters’ National Memorial Day. Two of our own former Brandon Firefighter’s, Mel McEachen and Norm Roziere were among those remembered for their service and sacrifice. Firefighter McEachen’s spouse Mavis and family as well as Firefighter Roziere’s spouse Norma, were in attendance while the Prime Minster acknowledged the families of our fallen.
Many of the departments across Canada flew their flags at half-mast in honouring more then 1,300 Canadian Firefighters that have died in the line of duty.
In the memorial ceremony much attention is focused on the red ceremonial table, which holds the helmets representing each of the fallen being honoured. These helmets, whether black for structural, yellow for wildland firefighters or caps for wildland pilots, are presented to the families of the fallen during the ceremony. At the corners of the ceremonial table are silent sentries, who carry an item that has some symbolic and spiritual significance.
Honouring the Fallen includes a medal and helmet presentation to the family of those firefighters who were killed on duty or died from a work related illness while still actively employed. An extra helmet is placed on a raised pedestal to represent all Canadian line of duty deaths since 1848. This helmet remains from year to year with the hopes that no other helmet or cap will accompany it at the annual ceremony.
The fire service of today is ever changing, but is steeped in traditions 200 years old. The ringing of the bell and the Firefighter’s Prayer are two traditions of the fire service which reflect respect and honour to those who gave their lives to their duty. In the past each alarm was sounded by a bell, which summoned these brave souls to fight fires and to place their lives in jeopardy for the good of their fellow citizens. And when the fire was out and the alarm had come to an end, it was the bell that signaled to all the completion of that call. When a firefighter has died in the line of duty, paying the supreme sacrifice, it was the toll of the bell that solemnly announced a comrades passing and is rung three times.