By Lethbridge Herald on September 11, 2018.
Along the road from Lethbridge Fire Department Headquarters, people stopped to watch a solemn parade of emergency responders, vehicles, and pipes and drummers pass.
On Tuesday, the Lethbridge Fire Department Honour Guard held its annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Ceremony as part of a tradition of honouring their fallen brothers and sisters of the fire service.
Held on the anniversary of the 9/11 2001 terror attacks, the memorial included a parade of uniformed members who marched from Station #1 Fire Headquarters to Southminster United Church, and included the Honour Guard, Lethbridge Firefighters Pipes and Drums, uniformed personnel and apparatus from various local emergency services.
Sept. 11 is a day of mourning for firefighters and emergency responders across North America in remembrance of 343 firefighters, 60 police and eight EMTs and paramedics who died in the 9/11 terror attack.
These were people who selflessly raced toward the World Trade Centre buildings as people fled for their lives.
In the years that have followed, thousands of responders have continued to suffer work-related cancer and debilitating illness because they answered the call to help.
“We have eight members in our own department who have died from firefighting injuries or cancers,” said Warren Nelson, Honour Guard Commander with Lethbridge Fire Honour Guard. “We will be recognizing them as well.”
Scott and Stacey Carpenter remember their father, Don Carpenter, as a very funny, proud man who served the City of Lethbridge as a member of the fire department for 35 years, retiring in 2000. Don passed away in June this year after a lengthy battle with work-related cancer.
“He had two families,” said Scott. “He had us and he had his fire department family. He missed them a lot when he retired.”
Stacey said she remembers being with her father during the 9/11 terror attack.
“I phoned my dad and told him to turn on the TV,” she said. “I was on my way over with his grandchildren.
“He looked at me and said there was going to be a lot of deaths today in the fire department. I counted my blessings then, that he was not part of that.
“But to be remembered this many years later is an honour.”
Cancer continues to be a leading cause of death among firefighters, who are often exposed to large amounts of toxins for expended periods when dealing with fires.
A 10-year study by the University of Fraser Valley noted between 50 and 60 Canadian firefights each year succumb to the disease.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had seven cancer deaths since I’ve been on the department,” said Nelson. “That’s where my thoughts go during this. We want to honour lour local people and give them the tribute they deserve.”
With files from Ian Martens
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