The Saanich Fire Department unveiled its new centennial memorial plaza, honouring the municipality’s fallen firefighters, in time for Firefighters’ National Memorial Day.
Commuters heading down Vernon Avenue towards the Pat Bay Highway now pass by a brand new commemorative plaza and sign outside Fire Station #1. On Sunday (Sept. 13), Fire Chief Mike Burgess and Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes officially opened the plaza. Construction began in April and the goal was to finish in time for the memorial day, celebrated annual on the second Sunday of September.
A fitting tribute on #FirefightersNationalMemorialDay to commemorate the @SaanichFire centennial memorial plaza and recognize those who serve past and present and to honour our fallen. @saanich pic.twitter.com/c9MqZzwgfO
— Mike Burgess 🇨🇦 (@Mike_Burgess_) September 13, 2020
The Saanich Fire Department marked 100 years of service in 2019 and the plaza was “part of our centennial celebrations,” Burgess explained.
The memorial features a dark grey Maltese cross – an international symbol for firefighting services – embedded in a concrete base. North of the Maltese cross, sits a new red sign that bears the fire station number, the Saanich Fire Fighters’ Association’s Local 967 and the names of the three fallen firefighters: Lieutenant Thomas Williams Jennings, Firefighter Hugh Stanley Taylor and Captain Dann Marchessault.
According to the department, Jennings, 54, died on Christmas Day in 1968 after having a heart attack while working at a structure fire. Taylor, 43, died in 1994 of occupational-related cancer and Marchessault, 62, also died after a battle with occupational-related cancer in 2014.
“The loss of these members at such early ages reminds us all that firefighting that keeps us safe is a dangerous profession, as well as the importance of firefighter safety, health and wellness,” Haynes said in a written statement. He added that he felt honoured to take part in the unveiling and recognize the “selflessness, courage and expertise” of firefighters.
The new plaza and sign also provide a “visual identity” for Station #1, a dedicated meeting place for ceremonies and a memorial to recognize the sacrifices of the firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty, Burgess said.
The unveiling officially concludes the Saanich Fire Department’s centennial celebrations.