Premier David Eby has issued the following statement marking Firefighters’ National Memorial Day:
“Today, as wildfires continue to burn in our province and country, I offer my deep appreciation and admiration for the firefighters who have lost their lives in brave service to others.
“This summer, we lost two young firefighters in B.C., Devyn Gale and Zak Muise, who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting people and communities from wildfires. Words are not strong enough to capture our debt to these heroes or the loss to their families and communities. We will not forget them.
“Today’s commemoration comes on the eve of the anniversary of 9-11, when 344 firefighters answered the call but did not return home. In the wake of the terrorist attacks, Canadian firefighters raced to Ground Zero to join the recue effort. This spirit of support and collaboration continues today.
“Earlier this year, B.C. firefighters travelled to Türkiye following the devastating earthquake to search for survivors, successfully pulling one woman from the rubble. In turn, this summer, firefighters from around the world have come to British Columbia to work alongside our wildfire crews and municipal firefighting teams during our worst wildfire season on record. It’s a powerful reminder that a global effort is needed to fight climate change and protect communities from climate-related disasters.
“For all this, we owe firefighters more than our thanks. That’s why we’ve expanded presumptive cancer and mental-health coverage for B.C.’s firefighters. And it’s why we’ll continue working to ensure they have the supports they need to do their work in safety, good health and dignity.
“The appreciation we all feel for firefighters was exemplified by a woman I met when I visited wildfire-affected areas. She had lost her home in the fire and was devastated, yet all she wanted to do was find the chief of the West Kelowna fire department, give him a hug and thank him for saving her and her family.
“Today, as hundreds of firefighters continue to battle wildfires in British Columbia, we offer our gratitude to every firefighter and honour our fallen heroes.”