Dubbed the Ride of Respect, a group of firefighters are riding their motorcycles to Ottawa for the dedication of a special new monument.
Surrey's Tim Baillie first decided to ride to the nation's capital for the unveiling of the Canadian Firefighters Memorial, set for Sept. 9, to honour all fallen firefighters. When his friend and fellow smoke eater Brian Green heard about the plan, he told Baillie he'd ride with him.
Baillie and Green set off Friday morning from Peace Arch Park along with Terry Shippam for a seven or eight day journey, depending on weather. Karen Glendinning, widow of Capt. Pat Glendinning, set off the next day with Ray Smith and Jory Robinson.
Pat Glendinning died of esophageal cancer in 2008, and despite the fact he was retired, the 57-year-old's death was treated as a death in the line of duty.
His name joins 1,121 others on the memorial wall, designed by Douglas Coupland.
The unique thing about the memorial is that it honours all firefighters - career, volunteer and airborne crew - who have died in the line of duty, dating back to 1848. This has not been done before in Canada.
The wall is accompanied by a 16-foot-tall brass statue of a firefighter made from parts collected from fire halls across the country.
"All those couplings were used in firefighting," noted Green.
The Ride of Respect will have members of the Red Knights, a firefighter motorcycle group from Ontario, joining them along the way. The Vancouver honour guard and many other smoke eaters from the Lower Mainland are planning to fly to Ottawa to take part in the monument dedication, which is part of the eighth annual national firefighter memorial ceremony.
The Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation has a searchable database of those killed in the line of duty, career and volunteer, stretching back to the first recorded firefighter's death. In addition to Glendinning, three others from Surrey are included: pilots Donald Sutherland Hill and Timothy G. Whiting, as well as firefighter Larry O'Brien.
Baillie said he wishes the federal government would institute a Canadian version of the Public Safety Officers' Benefit, which is an American death benefit given in a lump sum to the family of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders, and also provides disability benefits to officers catastrophically injured in the line of duty.
"This would have been a nice time to do that here," Baillie said.
"People in the military, police officers and firefighters are the only people who put themselves in danger in order to help strangers," he noted.
To see the entire list of names included on the memorial, see www.cfff.ca/EN/fallen.
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