Last Updated on May 3, 2022 by Luke Feldbrugge
History of International Firefighters Day
On December 2, 1998, there was a wildfire near Linton in Victoria, Australia. Of the several firefighters that responded to the call, a rig with five firefighters were engulfed as the winds changed. Firefighters Garry Vredeveldt, Chris Evans, Stuart Davidson, Jason Thomas, and Matthew Armstrong all died as a result.
JJ Edmondson, a volunteer Lieutenant and firefighter in Victoria, Australia, made it her New Years Resolution to create a day internationally to celebrate and thank all firefighters around the world. After discussing with firefighters around the world, it was determined that May 4th would become International Firefighters Day (IFFD). May 4th is also St. Florean Day, who was the patron saint of firefighters.
As awareness grew for International Firefighters Day, a new tradition was born. In 2002, fire stations started a Sound Off on the first Sunday in May. At noon local time, fire stations will sound off their sirens for 30 seconds, followed by a minute’s silence in memory of all firefighters who have been lost in the line of duty or passed on.
Thank You Firefighters
So what can we ever do to say thank you firefighters? Those who give their lives and put themselves in danger just to save us? Here’s a few ideas:
- Practice Safety – Whether that’s teaching your children to stop, drop, and roll, not leaving hazardous or flammable items around, or adhering to local campfire bans or cautions. The best gift you can give a firefighter is to not have to respond to a call.
- Respect Their Training – If a firefighter does need to respond to a call, remember that they are in charge. While it can be scary, confusing, and anxiety-filled, remember that the firefighters are in charge. They are continuously training (after their initial, rigorous training to become firefighters) and have more knowledge about fires or rescue situations than you. Remember to stay calm and trust that what your firefighters are doing will work.
- Pull Over – When you see a fire engine with their lights on and horn blasting, make sure to pull over to the side of the road. In a fire or other emergency, every second is crucial. The sooner they can get to the scene, the better outcome it can be for everyone. You’d want a fire engine to get to you or a loved one as soon as possible, right?
- Stop By – While most fire stations have rules on visitors, call and plan a trip to visit a station in your community. Firefighters love the opportunity to get to know members of their community and to teach fire safety to everyone. Most stations have an open house once or twice a year, which is a great time to stop by.
- Show Your Thanks – create banners, decorate your lawn or windows, or hang ribbons from your trees. Blue and red ribbons are the symbol for International Firefighters Day. Have your kids or another youth group create cards and drop them off at the fire station. Some stations have rules around food they can accept, so you might want to call ahead if you plan to bring anything edible. Instead, opt for a gift card for your local grocery store or restaurant so they can have a big family meal together on shift.
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