Speak Up: Connected Communities Honor Fallen Firefighters

T he date is March 19, 2013. The temperature is minus 8 degrees Celsius and the sky is bright blue in Medicine Hat, Alberta. The sound of a Highland piper playing “Flowers of the Forest” in the clear, crisp air can be heard for at least a mile in...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

Sue was also invited to play the pipes at the Old Medicine Hat Hillside Cemetery in honor of Reginald Rimmer, the third firefighter killed that fateful day. Finally, the family attended a memorial service for all three firefighters at the Medicine Hat Firefighter’s Memorial at Medicine Hat Fire Station 3. The memorial bears a plaque with her grandfather’s name and was designed and crafted by James Marshall. Sue was presented a commemorative plaque in honor of her grandfather’s sacrifice.

March 19, 1913, was a tragic day that ends with a wonderful story of family survival, love, respect and honor. William Stewart, John A. Brier and Reginald Rimmer made the ultimate sacrifice. Although they are gone from this life; they will not be forgotten.

 

A family of firefighters

We must never forget that firefighters put their lives at risk to protect us every day of the year, not unlike these brave souls who perished on March 19, 1913, and the thousands of others who have died in service to their communities. The Pender Islands are connected to a family of firefighters that stretches to Medicine Hat, across this great continent and abroad. It is a fire service family that is intimately connected through our communities and through our missions to prevent harm, save lives and protect property.

Under the guidance of Chief Stauth, the Medicine Hat Fire Department demonstrated exceptional love and care toward the visiting Pender Islanders and tremendous dignity, respect and honor for the great traditions of the fire service. We applaud them all for a job well done and wish them all a safe return from every call.

Thank you to the Foote family – Sue, John, son Scott Gullion and his wife Olga, daughter Cori Fiddes and grandson Thomas Gullion. Your pilgrimage has honored your family well and shown tremendous respect to your extended family in the fire service. Thank you all for the lasting vision of remembrance you have so lovingly demonstrated to us all.

Charles W. Boyte, CFO

Fire Chief

Pender Island Fire Rescue

Pender Island, British Columbia

 

Fighting discrimination

in the fire service

Oct. 11 is “National Coming Out Day,” a day lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals are encouraged to share their true selves. Many of you may know a co-worker or family member who is LGBT. Even those of you who think you don’t know an LGBT co-worker or family member probably do. You may not realize it because they are not transparent about who they are. You may wonder why must someone announce his or her sexuality? Why don’t they just keep it to themselves?

As an openly gay firefighter paramedic I discovered first hand that the fire service can be a rough place for someone who is “different” for any reason, be it race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation. I began my career in the closet. I faced countless inquiries about my family life, marital status, etc. I answered that I was single and invented excuses as to why. These inquiries were not malicious; they were just co-workers wanting to get to know me. Nobody thinks twice about these questions unless you feel you have something to hide. For me, that meant steering the conversations away from my personal life and trying to hide the truth.

Prior to coming out, I tried to never lie about who I was. I was good at crafting excuses and vague responses in an attempt to satisfy my co-workers’ curiosity enough to have the conversations move on. I had to filter everything I said to make sure I wasn’t about to out myself. I felt if I flat-out lied, I would be breaking the trust that is vital in the fire service. I know that when something goes wrong on a scene, one of the most important things we have is a trust that our co-workers are there for us. I felt that if my relationships were forged on lies and half-truths, then that trust would be at jeopardy. This constant dancing around the truth took a toll on me. It was very stressful to think one slip of the tongue and the entire charade could be over.

The stress was tearing me up inside. When I would hang out with my gay friends, I would constantly look over my shoulder to make sure nobody I knew from work was around. When I was on shift, I would avoid talking about anything but work. It was no way to go through life. As naive as it sounds, I thought the moment anyone found out I am gay I would be blacklisted and somehow forced out of the career I love.