Manitoba

Fallen firefighter a 'North Star' to daughter

Family and fellow firefighters remembered Capt. Thomas Nichols as a leader, a passionate craftsman and a loving father, during his funeral Monday afternoon.

Family and fellow firefighters remembered Capt. Thomas Nichols as a leader, a passionate craftsman and a loving father, during his funeral Monday afternoon.

Nichols, 57, had been a Winnipeg firefighter for 32 years before he and Capt. Harold Lessard perished in a St. Boniface house blaze on Feb. 4.

"You were my North Star. Yougave medirection," daughter Kimberley Nichols said, reading a letter to her father during the funeral at the Grant Memorial Baptist Church.

Kelly Nichols described his father as his coach, role model, hero and friend.

His voice breaking, Kelly Nichols said, "He went to thousands of fires. He always came home. Part of me still expects him to come home."

A fellow firefighter remembered Nichols's passion for carpentry projects around the fire station, his love of food, and his commitment to taking care of his co-workers.

Alex Forrest, president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg, said one of Nichols's last duties was to make sure firefighters' clothing was up to standard.

"I'll never forget the number of times he came over to my fire hall when I was working," Forrest said Monday.

"He'd come in on his own time, and he would talk to me about the safety and changes we needed to make in regards to turnout gear and clothing and such. That was his commitment throughout his career, not only as a firefighter, but just watching out for his fellow guys."

A public memorial for Nichols and Lessard is scheduled for Wednesday morning at the MTS Centre.

Members of the public are asked to be seated by 9:30 a.m. CBC Radio and CBC-TV will broadcast the memorial live starting at 9:30 a.m.

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