The Fire Brigades Union has released a video to honour the sacrifice made by fallen colleagues on Firefighters’ Memorial Day, and a minute’s silence has been held outside fire stations across the UK and internationally.
The video message recognised that firefighters “put themselves at risk for all of us”, and also emphasised the duty when anyone dies from fire or disaster to “learn the lessons from such tragedies”.
The minute’s silence at midday, organised by the FBU and Firefighters Memorial Trust (FMT), saw firefighters and other staff stand outside their workplaces to commemorate some 2,300 colleagues who have died in the line of duty.
The pandemic meant that the public were not able to pay tribute, but FBU general secretary Matt Wrack was joined in a live-streamed wreath laying ceremony by Sarah Mullallay, Bishop of London and London Fire Brigade chaplain Mia Hilborn.
Today, on Firefighters’ Memorial Day, #WeRemember the bravery and sacrifice of all the firefighters we have lost.
Observe the minute’s silence at midday.
— Fire Brigades Union (@fbunational) May 4, 2020
Commenting on the occasion, Wrack said: “Firefighters come into work each day to save the lives of others but, tragically, it is their own lives that can be lost in the process.
“We remember them this day to pay tribute, but there must also be lessons learnt from each fallen firefighter. All too often, their deaths could and should have been prevented. We reaffirm our commitment today to fight for the safety of all firefighters.
“While many remain in their homes as we battle coronavirus, firefighters continue to show up to work each day, keeping their communities safe. And, as with so many national emergencies, firefighters are on the frontline of this pandemic.
Early on in the crisis, an agreement was reached between the FBU and other stakeholders to allow firefighters to take on additional roles in the Covid-19 crisis, including driving ambulances and retrieving dead bodies.
He added: “This year, we have lost three of our comrades whilst on-duty in the UK and countless others internationally. And we have watched in pain as firefighters in Italy and the US have lost their lives to Covid-19.
“It is the sombre reality of our profession that, each day, the families of firefighters can never know for certain that their loved ones will come home that night. Today, we remember their bravery and sacrifice. In their honour, we hold this minute’s silence.”
Memorial ceremonies are held throughout the year as part of the union’s Red Plaque scheme, funded by the Firefighters’ 100 Lottery – a number of the Red Plaque events have been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.