Peter Kuhn as a Silent Sentry at Toronto's 2001 Fallen Firefighter
On October 14,
2001, Toronto's Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service honoured all
firefighters that died in the line-of-duty since 1848. A special
headdress honour guard was dedicated to our 2002 fallen Acting Captain
Jeffery Carl Spencer, Captain Patrick Joseph Carey and Captain Douglas
Ice Sculpture by Darlene Racicot & photo by Deb Lemaire,
service also remembered New York City firefighters that died during
the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
sculpted the life-and-a-quarter size bronze firefighter with flames
lapping up its feet, while rescuing a swaddled baby. Six columns
of black granite list our 145 fallen firefighters. The granite is
the upper stem of a cross with a Maltese Cross suspended above our
Honour Roll. During any given sunrise, a shadow outlining the Maltese
Cross moves across the fire station wall.
"valiant hearts" that made a "supreme sacrifice"
while protecting lives, property and the environment in Toronto.
dedication ceremony that introducted the new firefighters memorial
monument was held on October 1, 2000.
The dedication ceremony closed with the ringing of the bell and
the firefighter's prayer, two traditions of the fire service that
reflect respect and honour to those who gave their lives to their
duty. A distinctive bell ringing marks the end of an emergency and
a return to quarters. It has three rings, three times.
so, to those who have selflessly given their lives for the good
of Toronto, their tasks completed, their duties well done, to
our fallen comrades, their last alarm, they are going home."
When I am
called to duty God,
Wherever flames may rage,
Give me the strength to save some life
Whatever be its age.
Help me embrace
a little child,
Before it is too late,
Or save an older person from
The horror of that fate.
to be alert,
To hear the weakest shout,
Then quickly and efficiently
To put the fire out.
I want to
fill my calling Lord,
To give the best in me;
Halting all the fear and pain;
Protecting Life and property.
And when that
moment comes, dear Lord,
When end of life draws near,
I trust to your eternal love
All those whom I hold dear.
of significant historical firefighter fatalities
The first Toronto Firefighter killed in the line-of-duty was William
Thornton, on Friday, November 24th, 1848. In the 1840's, Toronto's
firefighting forces had only recently organized into less than a
half-dozen volunteer companies, originally operating out of a Fire
Hall on Church Street, near Court Street. Firefighters still pulled
manual pumpers by hand, and horse-drawn tankers brought water from
the waterfront. In this environment, fires were extremely difficult
to fight, and the various companies of firefighters took fierce
pride in their service to the community.
Just after 1:00
a.m. on the morning of Wednesday, November 22nd, 1848, a fire erupted
in Webb's Shoe Shop on King Street near Church Street. The owner,
who lived above the shop, sounded the alarm by shouting in the streets
as he ran to and rang the bells at St. Jame's Church. Pulling their
apparatus the short distance from the fire hall on Church Street,
the firefighters were confronted with heavy fire spreading to a
total of four shops, all with apartments above on both King Street
and Church Street. While operating to cut off the flames, as the
structures weakened, Firefighter Thornton became trapped during
a wall collapse. Even though he was wearing a helmet, the heavy
stone façade crushed his skull. He was carried out by another
firefighter, back to the hall and a doctor was summoned. He lived
for two days until succumbing to his injuries on Friday, November
24th. He was buried two days later with a full Fire Brigade funeral.
His mother and two sisters, whom he supported, benefited from donations
made by his colleagues.
died during a structural collapse at the MacIntosh Grain Elevator
at Front and George Streets, July 10, 1902.
on the Honour Roll are of firefighters that died at the En-Ar-Co
boat explosion on July 23, 1934. Another FOUR names were added from
deaths subsequently attributed to the disaster. Sadly, some of those
that perished were working for other firefighters that were attending
an annual family picnic in Niagra Falls.
On May 17, 1947,
Pumper 4 from the Berkeley Street Fire Station and Pumper 5 from
the Lombard Street Fire Station collided at the corner of Parliament
and Queen Street, while responding to a 2nd Alarm Fire at Queen
Alexandria School, killing THREE Firefighters. Coincidentally, the
same intersection claimed the lives of ten civilians at the Ruphert
Hotel arson fire on December 23, 1989.
swept FIVE firefighters from Kingsway-Lampton into the Humber River
on October 16, 1954. One body was never recovered.
4, 1978 THREE firefighters were killed at Kimberly Clark Paper Co.
when huge rolls of paper, soaked with sprinkler water crushed them
during a structural collapse.