News / Calgary

Fallen Firefighters honoured at annual memorial

Cancer is becoming a bigger threat than fire

Two names were added to the memorial this year — both victims of presumptive cancer.

Helen Pike/Metro / Metro Order this photo

Two names were added to the memorial this year — both victims of presumptive cancer.

As Calgary’s firefighters helped battle the flames threatening the Cardston, Pincher Creek and the Blood reserve area families and loved ones celebrated the lives of those who have fallen due to their high-risk, and heroic jobs.

On Tuesday, the City of Calgary’s firefighters gathered in full regalia for the annual firefighters memorial in front of the Municipal Building to commemorate the lives of the city’s 40 members who have died.

“Our members run towards danger,” said fire Chief Steven Dongworth. “We know we can never repay their sacrifice, but what we can do is honour their commitment and dedication.”

As every year passes, the names of these firefighters are read out loud, a bell chiming for each fallen man or woman. This year, two names were added to be remembered: Lieutenant Donald George Kennedy and Captain Ross P. Ellison.

“This brings the number of Calgary Firefighter deaths due to presumptive cancer to 36 since 1985,” said Dongworth. “The risk of presumptive cancer from the job is a reality in our world and we’re continually working to improve occupational safety.”

The last time a firefighter died at an incident was in 1992.

Dongworth’s speech included a nod to the women and men fighting the fire in Waterton.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city is incredibly fortunate to have one of the best fire services in the world with the best firefighters working for the service.

“Today, of course, our thoughts are with the 50 plus colleagues ... in Waterton looking after the people and property in that place, we’re incredibly proud of them,” said Nenshi. “The reason we work to create such an effective fire service, of course, is to keep our citizens safe.”

Nenshi said whether it’s fire, flood or medical emergency the moment someone makes the most terrifying call of their life, the members of CFD are on the way to save the day. He said it’s important to keep those heroes safe so that they can keep Calgarians safe.

But for the mayor it’s not just about the firefighters, he also wanted to celebrate the families who support the city’s heroic crews in choosing to rush towards emergencies. “The most important thing is the fact that these families have loaned us their loved ones ... in a career of public service,” said Nenshi.

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