Firefighters from Nova Scotia to be honored at national memorial

·3 min read
Art Andrews of Auld's Cove is among five late Nova Scotia firefighters whose names have been added to the Canadian Firefighters Memorial.  (Submitted by Kyle Andrews - image credit)
Art Andrews of Auld's Cove is among five late Nova Scotia firefighters whose names have been added to the Canadian Firefighters Memorial. (Submitted by Kyle Andrews - image credit)

Five men from Nova Scotia will have their names etched onto a memorial wall that honours firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The Canadian Firefighters Memorial in Ottawa opened in 2012 after a decade of planning by the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation (CFFF).

Kyle Andrews' father is among 82 people whose names will be unveiled Sunday as part of the national monument.

Andrews said the honour is bittersweet as his late father, Art Andrews, sacrificed so much of himself for his community.

"They will honour him and read his name out loud as they ring the bell," said Kyle. "As somebody who sacrificed their life for his community, I think he would be just glad that this is his final thank you."

Andrews said his father died in April 2020 after battling multiple cancers that he believed were the result of more than four decades as a volunteer firefighter.

"When the fire department started there wasn't a lot of money for any sort of [protective] turnout gear," said Andrews.

"He said, you know, 'We went in there with nothing' … Even though they were wearing Scott airpaks and stuff, it wasn't 100 per cent."

Physical and emotional toll

Art Andrews helped found the Auld's Cove Volunteer Fire Station in the late 1960s to respond to new homes popping up between Port Hawkesbury and Havre Boucher.

But the responsibility of helping new neighbours took a significant physical and emotional toll.

Kyle Andrews said the worst emergency came when the family was involved in a car crash.

Although trained in CPR, Andrews said his father was unable to save his 12-year-old brother.

'Mr. Emergency'

 The Canadian Press/Fred Chartrand
The Canadian Press/Fred Chartrand

"He had a lot of post-traumatic stress disorder from that," Andrews said. "Most families, they don't stay together when a major event like that happens to a child and somehow we made it work. It was difficult. It was hard."

Andrews said there were good days to balance the bad. He remembered when a woman reached out to his father after he helped her from being struck by a vehicle as a teenager.

"There were so many other stories where he'd saved people. He jumped into action and [act] like a true leader for an emergency situation, so he was always kind of 'Mr Emergency.'"

Honoured and remembered

After this weekend's ceremony, the memorial wall in Ottawa will feature the names of 1,811 Canadians.

CFFF president David Sheen said the organization continues its fundraising efforts which support its work remembering fallen firefighters and providing financial support for those who are left behind.

"If anybody lays down their life for their job, they should be honoured and remembered," said Sheen. "And so that's what we try to do to make sure they're never forgotten."

Along with Art Andrews, the foundation will also recognize Todd Arenburg of Bridgewater, Skyler Blackie of Truro, Christopher Myles of Enfield and David Galley of Waterville.

Andrews said his father was a man who never asked for much praise.

"In a way, he would prefer to be in this format where he's not present because he never really wanted a thank you," said Kyle. "But I know my siblings and my mother and I are absolutely ecstatic."