The Fire and Rescue crew at Fire Hall No. 4 remember
On Tuesday, June 23, the flag was flying at half-mast outside of the shared building in the 1400 block of West 10th Avenue, which houses both the Vancouver Public Library’s Firehall Branch and the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Fire Hall No. 4,
The firefighters were certainly marking the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism, which commemorates the anniversary of the bombing of Air India Flight 182 off the coast of Ireland and is a time to remember all victims of terrorist acts that have occurred around the world.
But Tuesday was also the day of the funeral in Markdale, Ontario, for air tanker pilot William Hilts, who died fighting a forest fire near Cold Lake, Alberta, on May 22.
And there was a small, bright red, firefighter’s helmet perched snugly on the very top of the flagpole.
Remembering why they do what they do
I thought the little helmet might refer to the 38-year-old Hilts, who was as much a firefighter as a pilot, in that his job — his “dream job” — for the last four years, had been to fly water bombers for Conair, fighting fires in BC and Alberta.
Thursday I had a chance to talk to one of Fire Hall No. 4’s Fire and Rescue Services personnel while he was busy doing the number one thing that I see these men and women doing, when they’re not responding to emergencies:
- Maintaining and testing their equipment
- Drilling, exercising and engaging in team-building sports
- Washing their pickup trucks
As he stowed equipment in the big ladder/pumper truck, He confirmed that the flag had been lowered to half-mast on Tuesday to mark Canada’s Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism.
However, though the sacrifice of William Hilts was surely on the minds of every firefighter in the Hall, the little helmet sat on top of the flagpole for a different reason.
Some of the crew, this firefighter told me with a half smile, had decided to put it there over a month ago, just for the fun of it,
Saving lives and, to top it off, inspiring kids — all in a day’s work
The kids in the neighbourhood will love the child-size firefighter’s helmet.
All the kids in Fairview who go to the Firehall Library already love the Fire Hall next door — they certainly love the big red, white and chrome fire truck.
And what’s not to love? It’s like a giant toy, with its revolving and flashing lights, blaring siren and telescoping ladder– all of which the firefighters play with constantly.
Or so it might seem to a child.
Actually, the firefighters are always putting their equipment to the test during down time so that they can know exactly what it’s capable of and trust it without thinking when the emergency calls come.
It’s got to be worth knowing that the ladder extends far enough and is steady enough to allow a child’s firefighter helmet to be securely placed on top of a flagpole.
Or so it might seem to a child.
And if the sight of that red helmet fires imaginations and inspires any girls and boys to become firefighters when they grow up, it was probably something else that similarly inspired today’s firefighters at Fire Hall No. 4, when they were children, as I’m sure they all remember. Click the images to enlarge them.