Each year firefighters face times of tragedy and triumph, arguments and lessons, reflection, and celebrations. While every day the public is thankful for the frontline service men and women, today, May 4, is International Firefighter’s Day.

The day will be felt harder than usual this year due to the very recent passing of First Class Firefighter Izabella Nash in a warehouse fire two days ago.

The day originated out of a 1998 tragedy and from 1999 the day was created and has been commemorated each year since.

On December 2, 1998, a tragic event shook the Linton community, Australia, and the world. Linton, approximately 150km west of the city of Melbourne, saw volunteer firefighters Garry Vredeveldt, Chris Evans, Stuart Davidson, Jason Thomas, and Matthew Armstrong working hard to help their colleagues fight a large wildfire when tragedy hit. A sudden violent wind change hit the area, engulfing the truck in flames, and killing all five members.

JJ Edmondson, a volunteer Lieutenant, and firefighter in Victoria, set a New Year’s resolution for 1999: to organise an internationally recognised symbol of support and respect for ALL firefighters and a date for which this could be co-ordinated worldwide.

The date chosen for International Firefighters’ Day is linked to the feast day of St Florian (the patron saint of all firefighters).

Firefighters dedicate their lives to the protection of life and property. Sometimes that dedication is in the form of countless hours volunteered over many years, in others it is many selfless years working in the industry. In all cases it risks the ultimate sacrifice of a firefighter’s life.

International Firefighters’ Day (IFFD) is a time where the world’s community can recognise and honour the sacrifices that firefighters make to ensure that their communities and environment are as safe as possible. It is also a day in which current and past firefighters can be thanked for their contributions.

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