International Firefighters' Day (IFFD)
International Firefighters’ Day (IFFD) is observed on May 4. It was instituted after a proposal was emailed out across the world on January 4, 1999 due to the deaths of five firefighters in tragic circumstances in a bushfire in Australia. On December 2, 1998, a tragic event shook the Linton Community, Australia and the world. Firefighters in Linton, Australia, a populated region in Victoria, were fighting a large bush fire and called for mutual aid. This urgent mutual aid call brought the Geelong West Fire Brigade to the scene, not knowing the despair and tragedy that was in store. Garry Vredeveldt, Chris Evans, Stuart Davidson, Jason Thomas, and Matthew Armstrong all loaded into company’s truck. They were part of a strike team and were being sent to help extinguish the flames. As the five headed into the hot zone, the wind suddenly switched direction, engulfing the truck in flames and killing all five members. This unfortunate incident is what inspired JJ Edmondson to bring about an international holiday, called International Firefighters’ Day, to support the lives lost and dedicated fire fighters who risk their lives every day to save life and property.
Saint Florian, the patron saint of firefighters, is also another symbolic element to International Firefighters’ Day. St. Florian was a patron from Noricum, Rome in 300 AD, who was said to be one of the first commanding fire fighters of an actual battalion. As legend states, St. Florian saved an entire village engulfed in flames using just a single bucket of water. Legend also states, because of this act St. Florian is known as the protector of those who have come in danger of fire. The duties St. Florian performed for his province are the same duties that fire fighters around the world perform every day—with the same dedication and braveries. On May 4, St. Florian is globally recognized and honored and is also known as the day of St. Florian. Therefore, International Firefighters’ Day was chosen to be honored on May 4 in honor of the saint.
One of the most significant symbols of International Firefighters’ Day is the red and blue ribbon. This ribbon is cut precisely five centimeters long and one centimeter wide, with the two separate colors conjoined at the top. JJ Edmondson chose red and blue because the red stood for the element of fire whereas the blue would represent the element of water . Coincidentally, red and blue are also the colors recognized world-wide to signify emergency services; therefore, red and blue being the best choice of color to recognize an international holiday. The ribbon is traditionally worn on the lapel-otherwise known as the fold of fabric on a shirt- but is not limited to that certain spot. Some people may also put it on their cars visors, hats, hang them in windows or off of car mirrors, or even hang them from trees in their front lawn. The places this ribbon can be placed are plentiful- just be creative! The red and blue ribbon is a simple but yet effective way to show support for International Firefighters’ Day.