International Firefighters’ Day (IFFD) is observed on May 4. It was instituted after a proposal was made on January 4, 1999, following the deaths of five firefighters in tragic circumstances in a bushfire in Australia.
On December 2, 1998, firefighters of the Geelong West Fire Brigade responded to a call for aid from Linton, in the Australian state of Victoria.
A sudden change of wind direction led to the death in a bushfire of five Geelong West firefighters: Garry Vredeveldt, Chris Evans, Stuart Davidson, Jason Thomas, and Matthew Armstrong. This incident led to the proposal for an International Firefighters’ Day.
Even though International Firefighters’ Day commemorates those who have died in the line of duty, the day also marks lifetime service given both by firefighters and by all those who support fire emergency services.
One of the symbols of International Firefighters’ Day is a red and blue lapel ribbon. This ribbon is five centimeters long and one centimeter wide, with the two separate colors conjoined at the top.
The red of the ribbon represents fire while the blue represents water. The ribbon is traditionally worn on the lapel but is not limited to the lapel.