Memorial to fallen firefighters coming to Belleville Fire headquarters
Meltwater
 
Belleville council has approved funding for the creation of a new memorial to fallen firefighters.

Councillors voted Monday to amend the capital budget to allocate $49,500 from the capital levy reserve fund. "It's imperative that we remember our fallen firefighters in this municipality," Chief Monique Belair of Belleville Fire and Emergency Services said during the council meeting at city hall.

"We owe them this monument.

We need to respect them and we need to show their families that they will never be forgotten."

Behind her sat more than a dozen current firefighters.

Belair read aloud the names of 13 men whose deaths were considered to be in the line of duty.

The earliest death listed is that of Fire Chief William Brown in 1929. There are three deaths from the last decade: those of Robert Davenport in 2015, Will McDowell in 2017, and Robert Laing in 2019.

"Many of these deaths can be associated with presumptive legislation that recognizes specific cancers specifically related to the hazards of firefighting," Belair told The Intelligencer via e-mail.

Both Ontario and Canada have memorial monuments to fallen firefighters.

The Belleville's Fire Station 1 -the headquarters at Bettes and Station Streets -houses a firefighting museum operated by Glanmore National Historical Site. Listed on a window are the names of 13 fallen firefighters.

This year is the Year of the Garden and, as Belair wrote in a report to council, the service will plant 13 Firefighter hybrid tea rosebushes in each person's memory.

"The proposed monument will be placed in the centre of this memorial garden," wrote Belair.

It will include a section of a steel girder from a World Trade Center tower. The piece has long been the focal point of the department's memorial service to those who died in terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The Belleville Fire and Emergency Services crest will be below the girder, along with an explanation of the monument.

Bronze plaques bearing each firefighter's name and a symbol of firefighting, the Maltese cross, are to be arranged across the monument's midsection.

The base is to bear the "Firefighter's Prayer" by A.W. Smokey Linn.

"The significance of the Firefighter's Prayer is to provide a small glimpse into comprehending the pain (firefighters) endure when not being able to save someone, the joy when everything works out well, and the apprehension about the future of the family they may leave behind while on duty," wrote Belair.

Mayor Mitch Panciuk asked about security at the site.

Belair said four posts will secure the monument in place. The station is staffed around the clock and equipped with security cameras, she added. The monument comes with a warranty.

Belleville Professional Firefighters'Association president Steve Morgan gave the chief full credit for the idea.

"It didn't take her very long to approach me" about the garden, he said. Morgan added the monument concept is "absolutely" appropriate. Coun. Chris Malette said the community could offer "no greater honour" and it is "long overdue."

"It's somewhat surprising that we hadn't done it in the past," added Coun. Bill Sandison.

The mayor said the city's manager of operations planning and development, Rowland Cave-Browne-Cave, was "instrumental" in helping in the memorial's design.

"What I really like this about it is that there's a living component."

Panciuk said Belleville Police Chief Mike Callaghan has reported his service is working on a similar project.

The firefighter memorial is to be completed in this fiscal year, pending availability of materials. A three-dimensional rendering is to be unveiled Sept. 11 in the garden and remain in place pending completion of the final version by Belleville's Campbell Monument.