Firefighters’ Memorial Day 2022

Today’s blog is by Tam McFarlane, National Officer at the Fire Brigades Union (FBU)

The people of Bristol can be rightly proud of their firefighters, who, for generations, have been willing to risk their lives on a daily basis to serve the city and protect its citizens from the devastation that fire can bring. From high profile incidents like the recent fire at We The Curious, through to the everyday jobs of dealing with house fires, road traffic collisions and a plethora of other incidents, our firefighters can be relied upon to protect us in times of need.

The service that they bring should never be taken for granted, and neither should their sacrifice. While others are running away from danger, firefighters are running towards it and tragically, the nature of our job has meant that over 2,300 UK firefighters have lost their lives whilst serving their communities. The names on this role of honour include many from Bristol and the surrounding area, from the heroes who fought the infernos of the Bristol Blitz, through to Fleur Lombard, the young firefighter who lost her life fighting a supermarket blaze in 1996.

The Fire Brigades Union is committed to ensuring that no matter how much time has passed, firefighters who died protecting their communities are remembered and honoured. That’s why, working with the Firefighters’ Memorial Trust, we helped instigate Firefighters’ Memorial Day.

Firefighters’ Memorial Day falls on 4 May every year and is an important day for all serving and retired firefighters. The day honours the sacrifice of firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty, acknowledging the courage and dedication of generations of firefighters, including those who serve our communities today.

On Firefighters’ Memorial Day, firefighters stand outside of their stations at midday and hold a minute’s silence. A wreath-laying also takes place at the National Firefighters’ Memorial by St Paul’s Cathedral with representatives from the FBU and the Firefighters’ Memorial Trust.

In previous years, Firefighters’ Memorial Day has been a public event and we encouraged members of the community, local politicians, and families of fallen firefighters to attend local fire stations and participate in the minutes silence. Obviously, the pandemic stopped this participation, but, now that restrictions are lifted, we hope that people can once again consider showing their solidarity, even if from a distance. Contact your local fire station if you want to know more.

You can also help us honour fallen firefighters by supporting our Red Plaque Scheme, which aims to recognise the sacrifice of firefighters by mounting a special plaque near the scene of the incident where a firefighter lost their life.

The Red Plaques take inspiration from English Heritage’s Blue Plaque Scheme, which marks the homes of influential historic and cultural figures, and our aim for the Red Plaque scheme is to recognise and honour as many fallen firefighters as possible for their selfless commitment to protecting others. You can explore and view Red Plaque sites across the UK honouring fallen firefighters and nominate a fallen hero for a Red Plaque on their website.

The scheme is funded entirely by the Firefighters 100 Lottery and, by joining up to the lottery, you’ll also be helping support the families of firefighters who have been lost in the line of duty.

Firefighters’ Memorial Day is a hugely important day for all of us in, and associated with, the UK Fire & Rescue Service. I know from experience the powerful impact that Firefighters’ Memorial Day has on the public and all those who witness it. I hope that all of you reading this feature will be able to participate and to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of all firefighters who have been lost in the line of duty.