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Ceremony honouring Ontario's fallen firefighters held for first time in two years

This year was the first in-person memorial since the pandemic began, honouring those lost since 2020.
firefighters memorial
A mourner reflects before the Ontario Firefighters Memorial on Oct. 2, 2022.

Hundreds of family, friends, and colleagues honoured 134 fallen firefighters for their bravery and sacrifice at a special ceremony just outside Queen’s Park on Sunday, Oct. 2. 

“They’re all heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of duty and service to their community, and while they’re no longer with us, their honour and sacrifice will never be forgotten,” said Premier Doug Ford.

The bell chimed as the names of 36 individuals were added to the Memorial Wall at the Ontario Firefighters Memorial on College Street, in addition to 98 names of those who were lost during the first two years of the pandemic.

“This memorial, a tranquil oasis in the heart of a bustling city, allows the many passers-by an opportunity to reflect on the ideals of duty and sacrifice,” said Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell. “Ideals embodied in the work of every firefighter in this province.”

This year was the first in-person memorial since the pandemic began, honouring those lost since 2020. President of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, deputy chief Rob Grimwood says it’s a reminder, that first responders sacrifice a lot when they put on their uniform and head to work.

“Firefighters serve their communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year in some of the most adverse and dangerous conditions imaginable,” said Grimwood. “They come to the assistance of people, often strangers, when they need it most.”

Brittany Costoff, a fire protection adviser with the Office of the Fire Marshal, lost her father, captain Martin Costoff, from brain cancer in 2021, a recognized occupational disease.

“He was our hero. Everybody loved my dad,” said Costoff. “He would help anybody, he would give his shirt off his back.”

She says he was with Toronto Fire Services for 33 years and was a big inspiration for the entire family.

“My brother is actually a firefighter with Vaughan, he just recently became captain. And I joined the Office of the Fire Marshal back in 2016. I always wanted to be part of the fire service and in prevention.”

In total, 913 names have been engraved on the granite walls honouring the brave men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty over the years.

“It’s really special, that was something my dad really wanted too. When he was sick, we’d drive past the monument everyday for several months,” said Costoff.

“It’s hard it’s like opening a wound again. You kind of start healing a little and this kind of opens everything up… but its nice seeing all the Fire Service family members together and everyone supporting each other.”

The Ontario Professional Firefighters Association says the ceremony serves as an important reminder that these heroes face many different types of dangers on the job including occupational illness or disease.

 

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