Firefighters gather to remember fallen colleagues on Halifax Explosion’s 100th anniversary
Firefighters converged in a sea of colour and ceremony to remember fallen colleagues on the centennial anniversary of the Halifax Explosion.
Ten West Street firemen were called to aid members of the Mont Blanc as it burned in the Halifax dockyard on Dec. 6, 1917. Nine would die as a result of the explosion.
The event is remembered as the largest single loss of life for any fire department in Canadian history.
"This historical number still stands today, and I hope it's a record that will never be broken," Chief Ken Stuebing said in front of hundreds at Fort Needham Memorial Park Wednesday morning.
The firemen were remembered individually on Wednesday accompanied by the toll of a service bell. Wreaths were laid by the families, including the niece of Walter Hennessey, one of four hosemen who lost their lives in an instant that terrible day.
"We have to have these things to remember, to pass on to the younger generation. Things to remember. That's what makes Halifax, I guess," Elanor Hennessey says.
A monument commemorating the nine firefighters who died in the Halifax Explosion was unveiled on its 75th anniversary, and remains a permanent reminder of the sacrifice they made on Dec. 6, 1917.
Despite relentless rain, hundreds of firefighters – active and retired – paid tribute to the fallen. That included a large contingent from Boston; a city that famously sent aid to the stricken city.
"It was the birth of a new friendship between our two cities,” says Commision Joseph Flinn of the Boston Fire Department. “It was important we came up and commemorated this event with them.”
Both Halifax and Boston have the oldest operating fire departments in their respective countries.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.