THE local community will once again commemorate firefighter Bill Slade, as part of International Firefighters Day today (Monday, May 4).

Also known as St. Florian’s Day after the patron saint of firefighters, the day is being marked across Australia and around the world today to commemorate the firefighters who have tragically lost their lives protecting lives and property.

Today, CFA will remember those members of our organisation who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service.

We will also reflect on the nine firefighters who lost their lives during the recent devastating 2019/20 bushfires, including two Forest Fire Management Victoria firefighters, Mat Kavanagh and Bill Slade, and DELWP contractor David Moresi.

The long and challenging fire season saw 1.5 million hectares burnt across Victoria and 17 million hectares impacted by fire across Australia.

Three American firefighters who died when their water-bombing aircraft crashed in southern New South Wales were members of the brave contingent of more than 900 international personnel from the US, Canada and New Zealand deployed across Australia to battle the blazes.

The CFA Annual Memorial Service has unfortunately been cancelled due to the current coronavirus guidelines.

CFA will still commemorate the sacrifice made by its members via online and digital channels today, May 4, on its traditional day of remembrance.

CFA chief officer Steve Warrington said International Firefighters’ Day is an opportunity for all Victorians to take a moment to reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our community safe.

“We must not forget the 79 CFA members, including 11 Country Fire Brigades Board and Bush Fire Brigade Committee firefighters, who gave their lives in service,” chief Warrington said.

“This day is to reflect and honour the commitment, dedication and hard work of all CFA people and the broader firefighting community.

“Unfortunately, we cannot honour our members together in person this year, but whether it’s lighting a candle at home or pausing to reflect on the commitment and sacrifices made by our members, we will remember them today.”

“This year we also marked the 75th anniversary of CFA on 2 April, which led us to reflect on how our history, experience and united purpose and how it has helped us prepare for major fire events like the season we have just experienced.

“In 2021 we hope to return to our usual memorial service that allows our communities to come together to reflect on the CFA members we have loved and lost.”