International Firefighters’ Day – 4 May
by Hannah Knight
Suitable for Key Stage 3
To stress the importance of fire-safety awareness within our communities.
Preparation and materials
- If you wish, ask some pupils to read much of the content of the assembly.
- Prepare a short PowerPoint presentation with images related to the Fire and Rescue Service, including the International Firefighters’ Day ribbons (see below).
- Invite a member of the Fire and Rescue Service Team to speak to the students. Alternatively, find a fire-safety video online.
- Download the Fire Safety Leaflet available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/49766/Fire_Safety_in_the_Home_-_Version_2.pdf
- International Firefighters’ Day was initiated shortly after a wildfire tragedy which took place on 2 December 1999. Five firefighters lost their lives trying to put out treacherous flames in Victoria, Australia.
Firefighters all over the world mourned for them. As far as they were concerned it could have been any of them in that rainforest that day. The firefighters are remembered to this day as heroes who used their training and courage to save lives and property.
J.J. Edmondson, a volunteer lieutenant and firefighter in Victoria, was a close friend of the five firefighters and decided to create an internationally recognized symbol of support and respect for all firefighters and a date for it to be celebrated on.
- The date of 4 May was chosen as this is the feast day of St Florian, who is the patron saint of firefighters, and from there a legacy was born.
St Florian was one the first known commanders of a firefighting squad in the Roman Empire. He similarly lost his life trying to protect his community.
According to legend, St Florian saved an entire town with only one bucket of water.
St Florian was later betrayed by his own army and gave himself up to the soldiers of Aquilinus due to his Christian faith. He was then tragically thrown into the River Enns with a milestone around his neck.
For 150 years many European countries have celebrated the 4 May as St Florian’s Day, recognizing the saint’s bravery and commitment to the safety of his people.
- Display image of the IFFD ribbons.
J.J. Edmondson had created an international symbol: this symbol consisted of red and blue ribbons, the red representing fire and the blue representing water. Coincidentally, red and blue are the colours that represent the emergency services. This helps us to remember the holiday’s meaning easily.
- There is a sense of comfort in knowing that we have a fire brigade in our towns. But don’t forget that we all play an important part in protecting our communities. The best way of stopping fires is prevention. Check that ovens and other electrical appliances are turned off after us and that fire exits are not blocked, test your fire alarm regularly to make sure it is still working and, most importantly, educate yourself on fire safety.
- Display fire-safety booklet.
This is just one of the fire-safety booklets available online; it is full of interesting fire safety facts and tips that could one day save your life as well as others. Play the fire-safety video or arrange for the firefighter to speak to the students.
Time for reflection
Let us spend a moment being thankful for the emergency services, who put their lives in danger for us every single day.
May we learn from their example and guide each other in keeping ourselves and others safe from danger.
‘The Lord’s Prayer’ (Come and Praise, 51)