Fire Chiefs Salue Canada’s Volunteer Firefighters

National Firefighters Week recognizes the “selfless contributions” of thousands of Canadian citizens

September 3, 2004, OTTAWA, ON – To mark the third annual National Firefighters Week across the country, the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) is paying specific tribute to thousands of Canadians who volunteer their time and efforts in the cause of fire safety and prevention.

“We have designated the week in which September 11 falls as National Firefighters Week in Canada,” said Ken Kelly, President of the CAFC and Chief of the Yarmouth (NS) Fire Department. “This enables us to perpetually honour those 344 firefighters who lost their lives at the World Trade Center disaster. It also gives us an opportunity to commend the thousands of men and women who work in fire services across Canada.

“This year, we especially want to honour those people who risk their lives fighting fires and performing other emergency services in their communities, for no remuneration. There are thousands of people in this category, mainly in smaller and remote communities which cannot sustain a full-time fire service.

“Their selfless contributions, for the safety and well-being of their fellow citizens, are highly commendable and greatly appreciated.”

National Firefighters Week is primarily commemorated by CAFC through this news release. There is no official ceremony; however, the CAFC asks Canadians, through the media, to take a moment during this week to make their own quiet reflection on the dedication and commitment of firefighters – both paid and unpaid – in the service of their neighbourhoods and communities. Fire departments across Canada are also urged to recognize National Firefighters Week internally, with some form of commemoration.

“The biggest risk firefighters face, of course, comes in battling large fires,” said Chief Kelly. “These can be very dangerous and unpredictable situations, and in many cases require trying to save the lives of people trapped inside burning buildings.

“But firefighters are also called upon in thousands of cases of emergency response – in
human rescue at car crashes, for example… in situations of chemical spills and contamination… in severe weather emergencies… in potentially fatal carbon monoxide leaks… the list is almost endless.

“And when they’re not involved in these situations, both paid firefighters and unpaid volunteers spend countless hours in community halls and stores and public gatherings, helping to educate the public about fire safety and prevention.”

“I’ve been a firefighter all my life,” Chief Kelly concluded, “and I’m still in awe of the services that my colleagues perform. And those who do it without getting paid are truly outstanding citizens.”

The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs is an independent, non-profit organization with a voluntary membership, representing fire chiefs in over 900 communities across Canada.