Restored monument rededicated in wake of 2008 vandalism
TORONTO, Oct. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - The families of fallen fire fighters joined hundreds of fire fighters from across Ontario in solemn tribute on Sunday, October 4 during the annual Queen's Park Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial ceremony in Toronto.
Twenty-eight fire fighters who made the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their duties were honoured by those assembled.
The addition of the names of 28 fallen fire fighters at this year's ceremony brings the total number of fire fighters memorialized on the monument to 500, with some names dating back as far as 1848. Of the 28 deaths being recognized this year, nine occurred in the past 12 months and 19 were cancer deaths that occurred prior to that but were only accepted in the past year as being job-related.
"Knowing that a fire fighter has given their life during the course of performing their job immediately makes us stop and consider what it must be like to be expected to lay down one's life while attempting to save another," said Fred LeBlanc, President of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, to those assembled. "Ours is a profession that consistently calls on ordinary people to do extraordinary things."
This year's ceremony holds special meaning for the OPFFA, as the monument at Queen's Park was rededicated after a major restoration that was necessary because of a shocking act of vandalism that occurred on the evening of May 12, 2008, when a lone male spray painted political slogans on several of the monument's inscribed granite walls, causing permanent damage.
The refurbished monument was made possible by a $500,000 campaign called Restoring Respect that was initiated a year ago by the OPFFA. The Ontario Government contributed $150,000 to the campaign, and other contributions came from fire fighters, other fire service stakeholders and the public.
"Although those responsible for their cowardly acts have not been apprehended, I am tremendously proud that we have gathered today under the shadow of a beautifully-restored memorial," said LeBlanc, a Kingston fire fighter. "I am confident that every member whose name is inscribed on these walls is looking down upon us today with an approving nod."
"On behalf of over 10,000 professional fire fighters across Ontario I extend our sincerest condolences, thoughts and prayers to the families of our fallen brothers and sisters. They deserve no less than to be honoured in this fashion."
LeBlanc thanked everyone who contributed to the campaign and made the restoration possible.
The OPFFA and the International Association of Fire Fighters are offering an $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible. The reward is still available.
For more information about the OPFFA and the Ontario Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial ceremony, including photos, visit www.opffa.org and follow the link for "Fire Fighter Memorial."
The Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association represents over 10,000 professional fire fighters in Ontario and is affiliated with the International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO, CLC, and the Ontario Federation of Labour. For more information, visit www.opffa.org.
SOURCE Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association
For further information: For further information: Fred LeBlanc, President - Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, (613) 328-2195, firstname.lastname@example.org