International Firefighters’ Day

International Firefighters’ Day

International Firefighters’ Day (IFFD) is observed on 4th May, when the world’s community can recognize and honor the sacrifices that firefighters make to ensure that their communities and environment are as safe as possible. It is also a day in which current and past firefighters can be thanked for their contributions.

The mission of the Fire Department is to save lives and protect property through emergency medical services, fire, and rescue response, and fire prevention. We pay tribute to firefighters who have died in the line of duty and also honor current firefighters.

History of International Firefighters’ Day

It was instituted in 1999 after scores of passionate citizens across the world proposed it, following the deaths of five firefighters in tragic circumstances in a wildfire in Australia.

The date is a traditional Firefighters’ Day in many European countries because it is the day of Saint Florian – patron saint of firefighters. 4th May is the feast day of the patron saint of all firefighters, St. Florian. He is the first known commander of a firefighting squad from the Roman Empire.  He lost his life, as well as those of his colleagues, for protecting the same humane ideas which firefighters all over the world share even today.

In December 1998, a large fire occurred in Linton, Australia. Firefighters had to call for mutual aid. Five firefighters from the Geelong West Fire Brigade were sent to help. When the wind suddenly changed direction, their truck was engulfed in flames. All five were killed.

This tragic event inspired JJ Edmondson, a volunteer firefighter, to create an international day for recognizing and honoring the sacrifices made by firefighters all over the world. The date of May 4 was chosen because it is the feast day of Saint Florian, the patron saint of firefighters.

It didn’t matter that the men were from a different brigade or in another region, what mattered was they were firefighters, who lost their lives doing what they’ve been trained for and are proud to do, striving to save life and property.

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.” – Lieutenant JJ Edmondson, Founder of International Firefighters’ Day

Symbol of International Fire Fighters Day

One of the most significant symbols of International Fire Fighters Day is the red and blue ribbon. This ribbon is cut precisely five centimeters long and one centimeter wide, with the two separate colors conjoined at the top. JJ Edmonson chose red and blue because red stood for the element of fire whereas blue would represent the element of water. Coincidentally, red and blue are also the colors recognized worldwide to signify emergency services; therefore, red and blue being the best choice of colors to recognize an international holiday.

The ribbon is traditionally worn on the lapel-otherwise known as the fold of fabric on a shirt- but is not limited to that certain spot. Some people may also put them on their car’s visors, hats, hang them in windows or off of car mirrors, or even hang them from trees in their front lawn.

How to celebrate

On IFFD, people are encouraged to honor the memory of the firefighters who died in the line of duty and show support and appreciation to the firefighters who protect the safety of people all over the world. This event celebrates not only firefighters but everyone in the emergency services.

Today and every day, we are thankful for our firefighters’ extraordinary commitment, exceptional courage, and selflessness. By proudly wearing and displaying blue and red ribbons pinned together, we proudly say “Thank you” to firefighters everywhere. Whether you lit your home in red, made thank you signs, or watch special tributes online, you let firefighters know how much they mean to our communities. YOu can share your stories on social media using #IFFD or #ShineYourLight4Firefighters.

Thank you for your commitment and dedication to the protection of us all, especially in this year of uncertainty and global pandemic. Happy International Firefighters Day!

Suggested Read: Important Days In May

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Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.