No slight to volunteers intended, Nelson firefighter says

The president of Nelson’s local firefighters union says a statue to commemorate fallen firefighters doesn't ignore volunteers.

The president of Nelson’s local of the International Association of Fire Fighters says a statue unveiled on the grounds of the BC Legislature in February to commemorate firefighters killed in the line of duty doesn’t ignore volunteers.

Marc Thibault told 103.5 The Bridge that while the impetus for the statue came from the union’s provincial branch, they did not make a distinction between career and volunteer firefighters who have given their lives protecting their communities.

“The memorial doesn’t specify that it’s only for career members,” he said. “It’s just generally fallen firefighters across the province.”

The Regional District of Central Kootenay recently wrote to the province expressing dismay at what it believed was a glaring omission. Regional chief Terry Swan says nearly 75 per cent of firefighters in BC are volunteers and 67 have paid the ultimate price. He suggested a new or additional plaque would be a sufficient fix.

But Thibault says it’s a misconception that the statue was only meant to remember fallen professionals, probably stemming from the way it was unveiled — the ceremony coincided with a bi-annual union meeting.

“That’s probably where the mix-up came,” he said. “Since [volunteers] weren’t invited they might have felt purposely left out, which wasn’t the case.”

Thibault added that he has not heard any concern about the statue from the 21 volunteer members of Nelson Fire and Rescue.