This past Sunday, September 11th, saw the annual National Firefighters Memorial ceremony here in Ottawa. I came down to attend, and as I approached the Garden of the Provinces, I could hear bagpipes playing. Firefighters were gathering here in the park, close to the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Memorial, with Christ Church Cathedral as a backdrop.
Heading over to the Memorial, there were two fire trucks were stationed here in a salute to the fallen. One was from the Ottawa department, the other from Carleton Place, which is a town to the west of the city. You can make out the distinctive spike of the War Museum beyond the first truck.
The Memorial incorporates a large bronze firefighter statue and fireman's pole on one side facing a granite wall on the other. There are over 1300 names on the wall, organized by province and territory, commemorating firefighters who have died in the line of duty throughout Canada since the first days of the calling, in the mid-19th century. The grounds are designed and landscaped with nods to the profession. Brass couplings from fire halls across the country have been incorporated into the Memorial.
For the ceremony, this bell was waiting, to be joined by twelve firefighter helmets, marking the twelve additional firefighters who have given their lives in the past year across the country, some in direct action, others as a result of illness directly attributable to the job.
Three of those new names can be seen in this section of British Columbia firefighters. Tom Slater, a fire captain, died of cancer related to the job. John Phare was a veteran danger tree faller killed on the job while fighting a forest fire. The last of these names is William Hilts, a B.C. bomber pilot who died in a crash last summer while fighting a forest fire in the Cold Lake, Alberta area. William was the son of Stewart and Maria Hilts; Stewart blogs as Furry Gnome at his blog Seasons In The Valley, which is where I know him from, and where some of you know him. You can find his posts about William by clicking on that name below the banner, as well as a post by him about the ceremony from earlier this week. He came across me before the service- it is the first time either of us had met another blogger, and it was good to meet him.
Elsewhere on the wall is an inscription of the Firefighter's Prayer, which was recited in English and French during the ceremony.
People were gathering for the service in this final shot, which also includes the much larger than life statue. I have more from the service over the next two days.