Ottawa

Firefighters who died in the line of duty honoured at Ottawa ceremony

Thirteen firefighters who died in the line of duty over the past year in Canada were honoured at a ceremony in Ottawa Sunday.

Maniwaki fire chief who died after call in 2016 remembered at Sunday ceremony

Thirteen firefighters who died in the line of duty were remembered at the Canadian Firefighters Annual Memorial Ceremony in Ottawa, Sunday. (Antoine Trépanier/Radio-Canada)

Thirteen firefighters who died in the line of duty over the past year in Canada were honoured at a ceremony in Ottawa Sunday.

Around 100 people paid tribute at the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation's Memorial at LeBreton Flats.

"We stand strong in our resolve to always remember those we have lost with the utmost of gratitude and respect," said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale during the 2017 Canadian Firefighters Annual Memorial Ceremony.

He also remembered nine firefighters who died in the Halifax explosion on Dec. 6, 1917, ahead of the tragedy's 100th anniversary. Flags at city hall and Parliament Hill were lowered to half-mast to honour the fallen first responders. 

'It's a beautiful day, but a hard day'

A special tribute recognized the former Maniwaki Fire Chief Patrick Lemieux, who died of a heart attack returning from a call on March 28, 2016.

His son, Stéphane Lemieux, stressed the importance of the remembrance ceremony. 

"For grief, it's important, because the work these guys do is not just anything," he said in a French-language interview. "It's very much appreciated. [...] It's a beautiful day, but a hard day."

Lemieux described his father as a man who was there for his crew.  

"The guys who wanted to find him went to the barracks, and he was there."

Job getting more complex due opioid crisis

The Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation (CFFF) noted the majority of the 100,000 firefighters in service in Canada are voluntary.

"It must be remembered that it is not fair in large cities that firefighters die. Today, 13 firefighters have been recognized and a large number of them are volunteers," said Mike McKenna, second vice-president of the CFFF.

Mike McKenna, second vice-president of the CFFF, said firefighters' work is becoming more complex due to the opioid crisis. (Radio-Canada)

Their work is also becoming increasingly complex as the opioid overdose crisis hits cities like Vancouver and Ottawa.

"They arrive before the ambulances and they have to manage the results of that. As a society, we need to look at why people take drugs first and try to manage and avoid those conditions," McKenna said.

Firefighters also expect investments to support their grieving families. The federal government has committed $80 million over five years, starting next year.

With files from Antoine Trépanier

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