Today, Monday, May 4, is International Firefighters' Day and it is observed annually on May 4th to remember firefighters who have died while serving our community or dedicated their lives to protecting the safety of us all.

This day is set aside for us to show our support and appreciation to the firefighters' worldwide who continue to protect us so well throughout the year.

Firefighters' Day was born after five firefighters' died tragically in 1999 during a bushfire at Linton in Victoria, Australia when they were on a rescue mission. They died due to the sudden change in the direction of the wind.

Soon after that tragic event, a firefighter named JJ Edmondson sent an email to his colleagues calling for an international holiday that would honor the sacrifices and triumphs of firefighters everywhere.

“The role of a firefighter in today’s society – be it urban, rural, natural environment, volunteer, career, industrial, defence force, aviation, motor sport, or other is one of dedication, commitment and sacrifice – no matter what country we reside and work in. In the fire service we fight together against one common enemy – fire – no matter what country we come from, what uniform we wear or what language we speak.”

– Lt JJ Edmondson, 1999

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 recognize and honor 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.

According to a National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) release, in the United States, there have been 25 firefighter deaths in 2020 with at least four attributed to COVID-19. Nearly 64 percent of calls answered by firefighters are for emergency medical services (EMS).

The NFFF invites and encourages communities to celebrate International Firefighters Day by lighting their homes red on May 4-5. “We ask that you change your porch light(s) and share your photos and story with us on social media using #ShineYourLight4Firefighters as a thank you to all of the firefighters who are on the front lines every day, keeping us safe,” Donna Clark, NFFA representative, said. “Lighting up in ‘red’ on May 4th & 5th would be an additional symbol of support to all of those who are there 24-hours a day, 7-days a week to protect us.”

River Valley Now would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all firefighters throughout the River Valley, across our state and our nation, thank you for your selfless dedication, sacrifice, the countless hours training and for your commitment in serving us all. You are greatly appreciated.