Dieppe fire captain remembered for his dedication and his smile

Rheal Leger’s obituary said he loved exploring new places, great restaurants and fine wines, but he also appreciated the simple things in life. Leger died earlier this month. (Passage Funeral Co-op Ltd - image credit)
Rheal Leger’s obituary said he loved exploring new places, great restaurants and fine wines, but he also appreciated the simple things in life. Leger died earlier this month. (Passage Funeral Co-op Ltd - image credit)

Colleagues are remembering Capt. Rheal Leger from the Dieppe Fire Department as a proud and dedicated man.

Leger died on Jan. 5 from a work-related illness at the age of 57.

His career started as a volunteer firefighter in 1984. He was promoted to captain in 2014.

Kevin Cormier, the vice-president of the Dieppe Professional Firefighters Association, said at a commemoration on Sunday that he spent time with Leger on New Year's Eve.

"He told me that firefighting is the best job in the world," Cormier said. "He told me that he never regretted his career choice, and that he was proud to have served with a good fire department for the last 39 years.

"He stated that if given the option, he would do it all over again."

DieppeNB YouTube
DieppeNB YouTube

In 2000, Leger received the Canadian Firefighter of the Year bravery award for rescuing a mother and her two children from a car that was sinking in Babineau Creek.

Leger was off-duty at the time. But when he saw the car in the water, he pulled the family to safety.

Friends, family, community members and firefighters from across the province came together on Sunday to remember him

People who knew Leger well spoke about him at the service.

In his speech, Cormier said Leger would rejoice when firefighters on their team would get promoted. "He was genuinely proud and happy for his colleague."

DieppeNB YouTube
DieppeNB YouTube

Cormier addressed Leger's family, saying Leger felt proudest when talking about his wife and four children.

"Rheal was our brother, making you part of our family," he said.

DieppeNB YouTube
DieppeNB YouTube

Leger's obituary said he loved exploring new places, great restaurants and fine wines, but he also appreciated the simple things in life.

Dieppe Fire Chief Marc Cormier said Leger had a mission of becoming a chief officer one day. He said he knows Leger would have done the job with pride and professionalism.

He said he can't fully express his sorrow, gratitude and admiration for Leger, as well as "other firefighters who gave their life for the profession."

DieppeNB YouTube
DieppeNB YouTube

He said that it's hard to imagine Leger without a smile on his face. He said Leger smiled even at the most difficult times.

"Rheal's departure allows us to reflect on what's important in life and reminds us all no matter what colour patch we wear on our shoulders, or what colour badge we put on our chest, we must support each other at times of need," he said.

"And Rheal has stood by us during stressful times in our careers and we must pay tribute to him by keeping that going."