THE CFA is honouring its fallen members and thanking all volunteer firefighters for their service this International Firefighters’ Day (Tuesday, May 4).
International Firefighters’ Day is a global event started by CFA members in 1999 following the tragic death of five CFA firefighters in Linton the previous year. International Firefighters’ Day Coincides with the Feast of St Florian’s Day – the patron saint of firefighters.
CFA chief officer Jason Heffernan said it was an important day to remember the 80 CFA members who have died in the line of duty since the organisation’s inception 76 years ago.
“Every day across Victoria, our firefighters selflessly give their time to serve and protect their communities,” he said.
“Tragically, too many members have lost their lives doing so.
“Today, we pause to remember them. They are forever in the hearts and minds of everyone at CFA and the Victorian community.
“We honour them today and every day by continuing their vital firefighting work, and learning, innovating and constantly improving the safety of our members.”
An annual memorial service for fallen members was held on Sunday at the Sofitel in Melbourne’s CBD. Following the service, attendees visited the new Emergency Services Memorial in Treasury Gardens.
CFA chief executive Natalie MacDonald said the new memorial was a fitting tribute to emergency services personnel who have lost their lives.
“CFA and the families of our fallen members have contributed to the design and development of the new site,” she said.
“It is a beautiful, public tribute to those we have lost, which all Victorians can visit and pay their respects.”
The CFA memorial service was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus, so Sunday’s event also paid tribute to the firefighters lost in the devastating 2019/20 fires.
“In the 2019/20 fire season, we tragically lost three of our colleagues from Forest Fire Management, as well as three members from New South Wales Rural Fire Service and three of our firefighter colleagues from the United States.”
One of those Forest Fire Management workers was local Bill Slade.
“On behalf of CFA, we give our condolences to their friends and family and remember their sacrifice this International Firefighters’ day,” Ms MacDonald said.