Over 40 firefighters pedalled their way through Greater Napanee on Thursday, stopping at the town’s fire hall for a brief rest during the Canadian Firefighters Memorial Ride.
Made up of firefighters from stations across Ontario, with a lone rep from Newfoundland, the cyclists departed from Hamilton on Wednesday, making stops at local fire halls along the way en route to Ottawa, where they will attend Sunday’s Firefighter National Memorial Day ceremonies.
“The purpose of the ride is to raise funds and awareness for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation,” explained David Cossitt, president of the Toronto Firefighters Celtic Society, who both organized and took part in the 600 km ride. “We started three years ago with 12 riders, last year we had 26 and now we’re up to 41.”
Money raised from the ride will provide travel accommodations for family members of fallen firefighters wishing to attend the ceremony, fund a bursary for children of fallen firefighters, pay for accommodations to a camp for grieving family members, as well as be put towards the upkeep of the memorial wall that lists all those who died in the line of duty.
Since its inception, the ride has grown in distance and in numbers of days it takes to complete the trek. It’s not meant to be an easy journey.
“A lot of members have given their life to the firefighting profession,” said Cossitt. “We want to pay tribute to them by doing the ride and raise some funds and awareness at the same time. As a 23-year firefighter, there’s a lot of names on that wall of people I’ve worked with very closely. It means a lot to me to do this run.”
Many of the communities they pass through on their ride would have lost a member of their local fire station.
This year in particular has been a tragic one for Canadian firefighters, as 90 new names were added to the memorial that already included nearly 1,600 firefighters who perished in the line of duty. Those on the front lines are also exposed to potentially harmful fumes that could lead to an earlier death over time.
An event like the Canadian Firefighters Memorial Ride shows that their sacrifice is appreciated by their peers and the community as a whole.
Anyone looking to donate to the cause can visit www.CFFF.ca.