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The Fallen Nine

When you take a look at that (Morley James’) funeral, and any Fire Department funeral, the number of people that show up…it was just…made quite an impression on me.

Former Captain and Honour Guard Founder Brian Freney

Since the Calgary Fire Department was founded in 1885, nine firefighters have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. No firefighter expects to perish, but the risks of the job means that tragedy can strike at any time. Those that don’t return from duty deserve to be honoured by their colleagues, and remembered for the sacrifices they made while protecting the public. Thankfully, the city has not buried a line of duty death since 1992, but the Department feels the loss of any member of the firefighter family.

Memorial booklet for the funeral of Hugh McShane in 1923, outlining the order of proceedings in handwriting.

Hugh McShane memorial booklet

The Guard preserve their memory in a number of different ways, representing them and ensuring that they will be remembered in perpetuity. The red stars on the right sleeve represent each of the fallen. They are also a symbol of the risks that every firefighter faces. The ceremonial sword and axe carried by the Guard also have the 9 names inscribed, physically linking the ceremonial and memorial aspects of the Guard’s purpose.

Each year, the department comes together to remember their loss and say thank you. The Fallen Firefighters Memorial is led by the Guard, and the name of every line of duty fatality is read out, while the bell is rung.

  • Hugh McShane, Firefighter Apparatus accident, Nov. 17, 1923
  • Arthur Simmons, Captain Union Packing Plant fire, Dec. 30, 1948
  • Norman Cocks, Firefighter Training accident, May 8, 1962
  • Lloyd Dutnall, Lieutenant Calgary Stockyards fire, Sept. 6, 1970
  • Harold Smith, Lieutenant McTavish Block fire, May 26, 1971
  • Jerald Walter, Firefighter  Beachcomber Night Club fire, April 19, 1972
  • David Allan, Firefighter Apparatus accident, Aug. 25, 1976
  • George R. Look, Firefighter Manchester Racquet Club fire, Jan. 1, 1981
  • Morley James, Senior Firefighter Forest Lawn Hotel fire, July 13, 1992
Honour Guard marches in full dress uniform at Tribute Plaza in front of old city hall, holding ceremonial swords and axes.

Honour Guard procession, 2015 Firefighters Memorial.