“The role of a firefighter in today’s society–be it urban, rural, natural environment, volunteer, career, industrial, defense force, aviation, motorsport, or other is one of dedication, commitment, and sacrifice–no matter what country we reside and work in. In the fire service, we fight together against one common enemy–fire–no matter what country we come from, what uniform we wear or what language we speak.” –LT JJ Edmondson, firefighter, and creator of Firefighters Day
Nobody could have put what it means to be a firefighter as well as this courageous woman did. Most of us would risk our lives for those we love—family members, friends, pets. But could you imagine risking severe injury or even death for someone whom you don’t know at all? Could you imagine going into a burning building to rescue a stranger, knowing you may not come out?
Could you imagine climbing a tree in a burning forest just to save a defenseless animal too frightened to come down on its own? These are things firefighters do every day, and though we likely see them as acts of pure heroism, for firefighters, they’re just part of the job. Few people deserve to be celebrated as much as these heroic men and women do, so let’s all make sure to celebrate Firefighters Day in their honor!
History of Firefighters Day
The first organized professionals whose job it was to combat structural fires lived in Ancient Egypt–however, at the time, firefighters worked for private companies that provided their services only to those who could afford them. Later, in Ancient Rome, Ceasar Augustus revolutionized firefighting by calling for the creation of a fire guard, called the Vigiles, that was trained, paid, and equipped by the state.
Firefighters Day was created in 1999 after 5 firefighters died tragically during a wildfire in Australia when the direction of the wind changed suddenly and engulfed them in flames. It is celebrated on May 4th because that is Saint Florian’s day, and Saint Florian, who was said to be one of the first commanding firefighters of an actual Roman battalion and saved many lives, is the patron saint of firefighters.
How to Celebrate Firefighters Day
There are many great ways to celebrate firefighters on this day. Most of all, this day is about showing our appreciation for their service, risks, and sacrifice, so find a way to make sure your local firefighters know how much you value them! As always, it’s the thought that counts and small gestures go a long way, so even bringing a cake down to the fire hall would be a nice thing to do. You could also consider donating money to one of the many firefighter charities out there, some of which help firefighters injured in the line of duty get the medical treatment they need and return to health.
Other firefighter charities help retired firefighters live comfortable lives after years of risks they took for others. You can also raise awareness about the dangers firefighters bravely face every day by wearing a red and blue ribbon—the colors of water and fire, respectively. Wearing a ribbon, baking a cake or donating a few dollars to a charity may not seem like particularly impressive gestures to you, but they will likely mean the world to those who work tirelessly for their communities. So show the firefighters of the world a little gratitude and celebrate Firefighters Day with us!