PHOTOS: Hundreds gather in Victoria to honour fallen firefighters

A firefighter salutes the commemorative statue behind the BC Legislature during the BC Fallen Fire Fighters’ memorial, with B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Association executive director, Gord Ditchburn, on the left and B.C. Premier John Horgan on the right (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Fire fighters from different departments across B.C. hold flags representative of fallen members of the International Association of Fire Fighters. The flags were given to family members at the B.C. Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial on March 4. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Premier John Horgan gave a speech during the B.C. Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial on March 4 (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Victoria Fire Department members Amy Tai (right) and Frank Williams stood guard in front of the The Last Alarm – Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial Statue during the B.C. Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Hundreds of Fire Fighters marched in honour of the B.C. Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial on March 4 (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Hundreds of Fire Fighters marched in honour of the B.C. Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial on March 4 (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Members of the Victoria Fire Department (left) and the Saanich Fire Department strung up flags for the B.C. Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Tyler Rosenlund and his mother were one of 15 families to receive a folded and framed B.C. flag at the BC Fallen Fire Fighters’ Memorial service on Monday.

The commemorative event recognized B.C. firefighters who died in the line of duty.

The flag represented Rosenlund’s father, Cpt. Robert R. A. Rosenlund, who served the Vancouver Police Department until he died of cancer in 2017.

For Rosenlund, the day was even more significant for the fact that he too serves as a firefighter, for the Burnaby Fire Department.

“It was a proud moment for sure and obviously I want to follow in his footsteps. It was sad but proud,” Rosenlund said. “Coming to Victoria and seeing this many firefighters here showing their respect is obviously really nice and gives us a bit of closure, but also brings up a lot of memories as well.”

Rosenlund was at a loss for words as he tried to describe how his father would feel.

Five hundred uniformed firefighters from across B.C. marched through Victoria and gathered behind the B.C. Legislature for the memorial service

On a local level, the Victoria Fire Department recognized retired Victoria Fire Chief Richard Couch, who died from cancer last June.

READ MORE: Late Victoria fire chief remembered for his quiet dedication, leadership

In a sea of blue and after the ring of bagpipes and drums faded, B.C. Premier John Horgan spoke of the supreme sacrifices the fallen firefighters had made.

“It’s really an honor and a privilege to see so many people, first responders from around B.C. assembled here today to acknowledge that sacrifice, and to ensure that that sacrifice wasn’t in vain,” Horgan said. “We cannot ask more from the families assembled here than what you’ve given.”

ALSO READ: Injured firefighter in stable condition

B.C. Legislature Speaker of the House Darryl Plecas spoke of the heroism of firefighters, and of their families.

“All of us who have lost a loved one knows that the heartache never goes away; there is that void that we just can’t escape from and all we want to do is scream,” Plecas said. “So I guess the memorial here for all of us is a way of our saying ‘we scream with you,’ and that will be forever.”

Firefighters put their lives at risk in their day-to-day job, either from exposure to flames or to carcinogenic chemicals which gives them an extremely high chance of getting cancer.

ALSO READ: Victoria Fire Department hosts ride for World Cancer Day

“The dangers of our profession cannot be understated, for they are lifelong and many times invisible. Each firefighter enters this profession understanding each day they will risk their lives for the benefit of others,” said Gord Ditchburn, executive director of the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Association. “I can think of no greater distinction than gathering as we have today and recognizing our fallen.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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