Family members of our fallen firefighters have gathered to mark the official opening of the Victorian Emergency Services Memorial in Melbourne’s CBD.
The memorial, located at Treasury Gardens, includes fallen members from CFA, FRV, VICSES, Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic), Ambulance Victoria, Life Saving Victoria and Marine Search and Rescue (MSAR).
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan helped officially open the memorial alongside Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes, Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp, other emergency service dignitaries and some family members of our fallen heroes.
Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said the memorial is a special place for families of our fallen firefighters, and the broader community, to take a moment to remember those who lost their lives in the line of duty.
“CFA managed this project on behalf of the emergency services so it was important to ensure the memorial was in a suitable and accessible site which was made possible thanks to support from the City of Melbourne,” CO Heffernan said.
“CFA worked closely with Emergency Management Victoria and the families and brigades of our fallen members, to ensure we reflected the wishes of those involved.
“I truly feel this memorial provides the necessary solemnity required for people to continue to honour and respect our 80 firefighters who sacrificed their lives while protecting their communities.”
Geelong West Fire Brigade firefighter Jason Thomas tragically lost his life along with four other firefighters at a bushfire in Linton in 1998. His brother Paul Thomas said the pain doesn’t go away.
“When I heard about the Linton bushfire I knew he’d be there, he was always one of the first on the truck,” Paul said.
“For the loss of those five men, the sacrifice they made has saved others.
“The amount of changes CFA has made since that tragedy has been incredible and there has never been another loss of a CFA firefighter in the same circumstance because of those changes.”
Paul said he was grateful families were involved in the process with the location and design of the new memorial.
“The location and accessibility of this new memorial is perfect and it means everyone can appreciate it, not only CFA but all emergency services who have lost their loved ones.”
The original plaques from the CFA Firefighter Memorial at Fiskville, built after the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, have been included in the new memorial site in a crypt.
The new memorial site is expected to host some of CFA’s annual memorial services on St Florian’s Day – the Patron Saint of Firefighters.