21 new names added to Toronto Fallen Firefighter Memorial


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If Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg had his way, there would be no new names added to the Toronto Fallen Firefighter Memorial.

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Pegg, along with firefighters and their families, on Sunday morning participated in honoring 21 firefighters during the first such memorial service since COVID hit more than two years ago.

“Our collective dream would be to come here to honor and pay respects and not have to add a single name,” said Pegg, who added that occupational cancer is a “big problem for this service” along with the challenges of “psychological injury and occupational stress injury.”

Pegg was appreciative of everyone who came to the memorial to pay their respects.

Twenty one new names were added to Toronto Fallen Firefighter Memorial at the “Last Alarm” monument on Sunday, June 12, 2022. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN
Twenty one new names were added to Toronto Fallen Firefighter Memorial at the “Last Alarm” monument on Sunday, June 12, 2022. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

Joanne Skene attended with her mom, Joan Chalmers, and other family members on Sunday. They looked over the polished granite to find “dad,” who served from 1962 to 1989 before retiring.

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“We are here because we weren’t able to have his funeral in 2020 because of COVID,” said Skene. “So this really means quite a lot to us.”

“His last few years were very difficult for him because of the cancer.”

Toronto Fire Service members enter the memorial service as 21 new names are added to the Toronto Fallen Firefighter Memorial at the “Last Alarm” monument located at the Fire & Marine Station 334 in Toronto on Sunday, June 12, 2022. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN
Toronto Fire Service members enter the memorial service as 21 new names are added to the Toronto Fallen Firefighter Memorial at the “Last Alarm” monument located at the Fire & Marine Station 334 in Toronto on Sunday, June 12, 2022. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

“And they won’t now be forgotten.”

Joan Chalmers held a hard leather firefighters’ helmet — more than 60 years old — against her heart and chest. She said it was her husband’s and called it a “treasure.”

Robert Chalmers died a line-of-duty death associated with cancer on Nov. 4, 2020 — nine days after his 87th birthday.

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Family members talked about Robert and how his firefighter family would carpool to the Claremont St. station east of Trinity Bellwoods Park. He also spent time at the Keele, Runnymede and Exhibition stations.

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“I knew them all and they were like a family,” said Chalmers. “I used to make meals and send it to the fire hall (with them).”

Toronto Fire Service Pipes and Drums lead the processional on Sunday, June 12, 2022. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN
Toronto Fire Service Pipes and Drums lead the processional on Sunday, June 12, 2022. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

Skene spoke about the “difficulty” of the job and how firefighters were “brave.”

“And they took a great deal of pride in it (the job) and so did their families,” said Skene. “And it is nice they are remembered.”

Mother and daughter laid their red roses — as did all 21 families — at the “Last Alarm” memorial. The laying of the roses a gesture similar to those laying poppies atop the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

Twenty one new names were added to Toronto Fallen Firefighter Memorial at the “Last Alarm” monument on Sunday, June 12, 2022. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN
Twenty one new names were added to Toronto Fallen Firefighter Memorial at the “Last Alarm” monument on Sunday, June 12, 2022. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

The memorial now features the names of 319 firefighters, dating back to the first line-of death-duty in 1848. The names and their stories are remembered by their families and those they worked side-by-side with throughout their careers, dedicating their jobs to those who live in Toronto.

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