Today is International Firefighters' Day (IFFD). This special holiday has been held annually on 4 May since 1999. So today we say "Thank you to the firefighters and all other emergency services" for their tireless dedication and service to all citizens.
International Firefighters' Day
The story behind International Firefighters' Day
The reason for today's day of honour is a tragic event on 02 December 1998. In Linton in the Australian region of Victoria, a bushfire raged that the local emergency services were no longer able to keep under control on their own. So they called for help from neighbouring fire stations. A 5-person response team from the Geelong West Fire Brigade set out, but they did not reach the scene. The vehicle with Garry Vredeveldt, Chris Evans, Stuart Davidson, Jason Thomas and Matthew Armstrong got caught in the forest fire due to a sudden shifting wind. The vehicle burst into flames and all five firefighters lost their lives.
The tragic incident motivated Australian JJ Edmondson to launch a global campaign that resulted in today's International Firefighters' Day. The campaign aims at honouring and thanking all emergency services and the topic of preventive fire protection. Here, the thanks go not only to the professional fire brigade, but also to the volunteer fire brigade, professional fire brigade, paramedics and fire protection specialists.
Good to know: Edmondson is a volunteer firefighter, lieutenant and training coordinator for the Clyde Fire Department in Victoria, Australia. She is actively involved in firefighting and fire safety, serving as an instructor in a variety of areas. One of her main focuses is on the behaviour during forest fires. After the tragic event on 02 December 1998, she introduced the International Day of Honour for Firefighters worldwide, for whose international recognition she continues to work hard.²
Why is International Firefighters' Day on 4 May?
04 May is the name day of Saint Florian of Lorch, who is considered the patron saint of firefighters. Saint Florian was a renowned Roman commander and commander of a fire-fighting unit, i.e. a fire brigade. Together with his unit, he followed the same guidelines as today's firefighters all over the world. St Florian's Day has been celebrated in Europe for more than a hundred years and has a global presence.
The symbol - the IFFD bands
As a symbol for International Firefighters' Day, Edmondson designed the red-blue ribbon, where red stands for the element of fire and blue for the element of water. The two most important elements that accompany the work of firefighters. In addition, blue and red are also the globally recognised colours for marking emergency services.
Good to know:
In Germany, there are 1.3 million firefighters in more than 23,000 fire brigades (volunteer fire brigades, professional fire brigades and plant fire brigades). Of these, more than one million people are members of the volunteer fire brigade. In addition, there are more than 20,000 youth fire brigades with more than 270,000 members. In 2019, the fire service responded to 224,966 fires and 2,663,910 rescue missions, among other things.¹