Every year, one of the most important ceremonies for the Calgary Fire Department is the Fallen Firefighters Memorial service, when we join family members of the fallen to honour and remember the great sacrifices they have made. The service is steeped in tradition and includes observing a moment of silence, laying wreaths and ringing a bell for each of the Calgary Fire Departments’ 32 fallen firefighter’s lives.
“Everyday our firefighters risk their lives.” said Fire Chief Bruce Burrell. “Sometimes we, along with the public, forget what the outcome of this risk can be. So it is extremely important that we take the time to honour our fallen firefighters and remember the risks that are taken by them.”
Lieutenant Allan Pipke has been a Calgary firefighter for almost 22 years. Early in his career he worked a shift where a firefighter lost his life while responding to a building fire.
“For me personally, the memorial service reminds me that there is a high degree of risk to this job,” said Lieutenant Pipke. “I think it is so important to have the service every year so we can say ‘thank you’ and pay our respects to those who have lost their lives.”
Last year was the first time Pipke attended the annual memorial service since joining the Calgary Fire Department because attending the service for his fallen brothers has been too difficult in the past.
“They say time can heal all wounds; it is true that time has helped,” said Pipke. During the ringing of the bells he thought about all his close calls on the job, close calls in which he survived without injury.
The memorial takes place at the Police Officers and Firefighters Tribute Plaza located in front of the Calgary Municipal Building at noon on September 10, 2013.
Four new names of fallen firefighters, who succumbed to presumptive illnesses, will be added to the service this year including former Fire Chief Wayne Morris. Chief Morris was instrumental in having Tribute Plaza built and dedicated to fallen police officers and firefighters.
The nine Calgary firefighters who lost their lives on the job have their names inscribed on the memorial. The 23 firefighters who lost their lives due to presumptive illness, which are illnesses that are presumed to have been caused by firefighting, have commemorative plaques on display at Fire Headquarters in their honour. Today, their plaques were part of the memorial service.
The public are invited to attend the service and support Calgary firefighters and the families of those who have lost their lives in the line of duty or due to presumptive injury or illness.