While “May the fourth be with you,” is a popular phrase for May 4th each year, a lesser known designation for the day is International Firefighters Day. Each year on May 4th, we honor firefighters by remembering those that have died serving their communities. In addition, it’s a day to publicly show our support and appreciation for firefighters who continue to protect us day in and day out.
The History of International Firefighters Day
On December 2, 1998, five firefighters tragically lost their lives in Australia. Garry Vredeveldt, Chris Evans, Stuart Davidson, Jason Thomas, and Matthew Armstrong were responding to a large bush fire in Linton, Australia after being called in through mutual aid. While en route to the hot zone, the wind shifted direction and engulfed their truck in flames, killing all five members. In response to the event, JJ Edmondson – a volunteer Lieutenant and firefighter in Victoria, Austraila – set a New Year’s resolution for herself to organize an international day for firefighters to be recognized.
JJ and numerous others worked together to create International Firefighters Day, starting in 1999. May 4th was chosen because it’s the feast of Saint Florian, which has been a celebrated tradition in Europe for more than 150 years. Saint Florian was a Christian holy many who died in c. 304 AD. He is the patron saint of Austria, along with firefighters, chimney sweeps, and brewers. He was the first known commander of one firefighting squad in the Roman Empire, making the day of his feast a perfect fit for the new IFFD observance.
The IFFD Ribbon
International Firefighters Day is recognized with a dual colored ribbon. Red represents fire. Blue represents water. These are the two main elements that firefighters work with. They are also colors internationally recognized with emergency service.
How Local Departments Commemorate IFFD
On the first Sunday in May at noon, fire stations internationally mark the day through a Sound Off. A Sound Off is where fire sirens are set off for 30 seconds. It is followed by a minute of silence in memory of and respect for firefighters who have passed away. This year, the IFFD Sound Off will take place on Sunday, May 6th at 12:00 pm local time.
How Braun Ambulances Observes International Firefighters Day
Here at Braun Ambulances, we are always thankful for the important work firefighters do – and the incredible sacrifices they make for their communities. As an ambulance manufacturer, we will be taking the time to help spread the word and create more awareness for this special day. We hope you will too! We will also honor those that have left us, as well as those that continue to serve.