Emergency crews tackle a July house fire on Craigflower Road in Esquimalt. Sunday, Sept. 8 is Firefighters’ National Memorial Day, created to honour the health and safety sacrifices of crews across the country. (File Photo)

‘Firefighting is not a job for everyone’: Greater Victoria fire chiefs

Sacrifices of Canadian fire crews honoured on Firefighters’ National Memorial Day

Times have changed and technology has advanced, but the people who choose to run towards the region’s fires, crashes and disasters face enormous risks to their health and safety every day, and some of them sacrifice their lives to keep their communities safe.

Flags across Canada – including the B.C. Legislature’s Canadian flag – flew at half mast Sunday for the 16th Firefighters’ National Memorial Day, created to honour the sacrifices of fallen firefighters across the nation.

READ ALSO: Cancer leading cause of death for firefighters, B.C. study finds

READ ALSO: Late Victoria fire chief remembered for his quiet dedication, leadership

“Our hearts go out to those who are grieving for loved ones who have lost their lives in the line of duty, and to those who have suffered injuries, traumas and illnesses,” said Premier John Horgan in a statement. “Firefighters’ jobs encompass much more than fighting fires. Often the first to arrive on the scene of an emergency, firefighters require remarkable skill, as well as mental and physical strength, to quickly respond to difficult and complex situations.”

While fires may be an immediate source of danger for crews, firefighters are also frequently exposed to carcinogenic chemicals, increasing their risk of developing cancer.

Esquimalt Fire Department Chief Chris Jancowski remarked on the significant shifts towards safety and mental and physical health that have occurred over his career.

At one point, having the smelliest, smokiest, most charred fire gear might be seen as a point of honour, he recalled. Now there are protocols in place to remove toxins and keep equipment as clean as possible.

“From a technology point of view, things have improved,” Jancowski said. “We owe it to ourselves and our families to make sure we take proactive steps for safety.”

READ ALSO: Wounded Warrior Run BC surpasses $100,000 fundraising goal

Health too is a bigger priority, Jancowski noted. “There’s a lot more conversations going on in the community today – its a step forward,” he said. “Most fire departments now have programs in place to provide a resource to members to provide physical and emotional support.”

John Cassidy, Colwood fire chief and representative for the Greater Victoria Fire Chiefs Association, says Firefighters’ National Memorial Day reminds him of the every day unknowns faced by fire crews across Greater Victoria.

“Every day you don’t know … if that will be a day will tax you more than another day or if you will have to tow the line and put your life on the line for your community,” he said. “This job is not for everyone. You have to be a little bit crazy to love this line of work … But there’s so many men and women that love this job and love what they’re doing.”

The 2019 official memorial service was held Sunday morning in Manitoba.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Coast Capital Savings in Saanich to re-open after COVID-19 scare

The branch closed ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Court hears of moments before Victoria father stabbed to death in the middle of Hillside Avenue

Sentencing hearing for Daniel Creagh, charged with manslaughter, began Friday

Extra precautions against COVID-19 put in place as tourism season arrives

Airports and border services follow federal cues to minimize spread of coronavirus

A fare fight: Passenger arrested after refusing to pay Victoria cab driver

Woman taken into police custody after arguing with cab driver

Loose pets in the car can cost $109 fine, says Saanich cop, plus ICBC points

Unsecured pets at risk of injury, can lead to hefty fines

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Stories of sexual assault at B.C. tree planting camps ‘shocking but not surprising:’ advocate

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

Lawyer gets house arrest for possessing child porn

Maple Ridge resident gets nine-month term

Most Read