On Sunday the 5th May members from brigades across the state met with other firefighters, volunteer and career to pay their respects at the Firefighters’ Memorial Grove, Kings Park Perth.
Jodie Neuzerling, the Executive Officer of VFRSWA commented on facebook,
“One of my favourite places – very calm and the sun came out at exactly the right time. Remembering and honouring those who have gone before us.”
Establishment of the memorial
Career and volunteer firefighters have contributed to the protection and safety of the Western Australian (WA) community for over 115 years.
As the community of WA has prospered and developed, the need for fire and emergency services has grown not only in the Perth metropolitan area but in all regions across the state.
On 23 July 2000, the Firefighters’ Memorial Grove in Kings Park was unveiled to celebrate the centenary of fire services in WA and honour the contribution of career and volunteer firefighters in protecting our State.
Occupying a prestigious area of Kings Park on Forrest Drive, the memorial included a granite arc representing the base of a burnt out tree and a ten tonne rock symbolising a flame, which reflects the impact and role of fire.
Revitalisation of the memorial
On 10 May 2013, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) held an inaugural memorial service to mark International Firefighter’s Day – a day to thank all firefighters for their extraordinary commitment, exceptional courage and selfless community service. The day was also to remember and honour firefighters who have died during the course of duty.
At this event, the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson APM reflected on the strong collegiate bonds between all firefighters and voiced his desire to enrich the memorial with the addition of a firefighter statue.
Given the contribution of firefighters, both past and present, and those who have passed, the addition of a firefighter statue was considered to be a fitting tribute and a poignant mark of respect to acknowledge those who have sacrificed their own lives for the WA community.
Many others shared this vision and with the support of the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, the Department of Parks and Wildlife, the United Firefighters’ Union, the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Association and the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades, a fitting enhancement to the Firefighters’ Memorial Grove has been achieved.
The memorial now includes an impressive life size bronze casting of two firefighters, a low granite wall containing a commemorative script and a landscaped pathway, which combines to create a connection between the existing and new elements within the Grove.
In revitalising this special place within Kings Park, a design team worked closely with the artist Jon Tarry and landscape architect David Smith, who expertly guided the design process, uniquely melding the elements of loss and vigilance, to produce a stunning addition to this, the most important of places.
On International Firefighters Day, 4 May 2014, the firefighter statues were unveiled by the Premier of Western Australia the Honourable Colin Barnett MLA, the Minister for Emergency Services the Honourable Joe Francis MLA and the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson APM.
The statues show a firefighter kneeling on the ground, holding the helmet of a fallen firefighter. His head is bowed in mourning with the hand of his firefighting companion placed on his shoulder symbolising comfort, support and an unspoken understanding.
Whilst providing this support, the firefighter continues to look out to the fire front, weary but accepting and ready for what may yet confront them.
The purpose of the two statues is not only to recognise the contribution of all firefighters both past and present, but also to display the deep respect and gratitude that the community holds for them.
The statues also represent the respect and admiration that firefighters hold for each other, specifically the support that they provide each other while facing some of the most challenging and hazardous environments.
May the Firefighters’ Memorial Grove become a place of contemplation, a place to reflect on cherished memories and a place that celebrates the ongoing dedication of our valued firefighters now and into the future.