Answering the last call

A Cloverdale firefighter who lost his life in 1974 is memorialized on a national monument.

Cindy O’Brien Hugh traces the letters of her father’s name

One of Cloverdale’s own travelled to Ottawa last weekend to attend the dedication of a memorial site honoring Canada’s fallen firefighters.

Cindy O’Brien Hugh and her sister Kerri were among the relatives who gathered alongside fire services personnel for the Sept. 9 ceremony at the Canadian Firefighters Memorial.

Designed by Douglas Coupland, the new memorial was officially dedicated by Governor General David Johnston at the ceremony, hosted by the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation, or CFFF.

The memorial consists of a six-metre-high bronze statue of a firefighter and a wall inscribed with the more than 1,100 names of firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1848 – while answering their last call.

Johnston thanked the nation’s firefighters for their willingness to go “the wrong way” into danger, adding they “represent an ideal of service and selflessness that is very rare and very precious.”

On August 12, 1974, Cloverdale resident Larry O’Brien was the driver and sole occupant of a pumper truck that skidded on a wet road on the way to a fire, landing in a deep ditch. He died at the scene.

He was survived by his wife Arlie, and two daughters, Kerri and Cindy, who was a Grade 10 student at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary at the time.

The loss was devastating, said Cindy’s husband, Rick Hugh.

Cloverdale was still very much a small town in the mid-1970s. Everyone knew everyone else.

The tragedy touched the entire community.

The sound of the fire alarm at Hahttp://raven.b-it.ca/portals/uploads/cloverdale/.DIR288/wDSC01446.jpgll #8 – an air raid siren perched in the hose tower of the fire hall – could be heard throughout Cloverdale and beyond.

[‘Never to be forgotten.’ Cindy O’Brien Hugh, left, and her sister Kerri, at the new Canadian Firefighters Memorial.]

When the alarm was raised, volunteers hurried from their jobs and families, converging at the hall.

O’Brien was captain of Hall #8 in Cloverdale at the time of his death. He was just 44 years old.

He followed his father, Bill, a 20-year veteran and proprietor of O’Brien’s Super Service gas station, into the Cloverdale Volunteer Fire Brigade, in the early 1950s.

“Larry served proudly and passionately for 23 years,”  says a biography included on the CFFF’s website.

The trip to Ottawa was an emotional one for O’Brien Hugh, who works as a secretary in the office at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, and is a familiar face to many Cloverdale residents.

http://raven.b-it.ca/portals/uploads/cloverdale/.DIR288/wDSC01445.jpgThough it was difficult, the journey was worth taking, she said Tuesday.

“The opportunity to meet with so many families that have shared the same loss was something that will stay with me forever,” she said.

She and her sister were able to chat with the Red Knights – members of a firefighters motorcycle club taking part in the Ride of Respect to attend the monument’s unveiling. It was led by Surrey firefighter Tim Baillie.

She also looked for the name of another Surrey firefighter inscribed on the wall, Patrick Glendenning.

O’Brien Hugh also met up with ceremonial piper Jeff Sim, a long time Surrey firefighter who recently retired, and spent four years at Hall #8 in Cloverdale.

 

Just Posted

Surrey ‘foam-free Vaisakhi’ initiative inspires ‘Sweet Takeaways’ business

KPU students launch business selling sugarcane takeout containers as alternative to foam, single-use items

Driver escaped uninjured as car burst into flames on Nordel Way

It happened at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in North Delta, just west of Scott Road

Cloverdale hamper program brings Christmas cheer to 500 households in Surrey, Langley, and White Rock

Cloverdale Community Kitchen has been running hamper program for 26 years

Homicide team at Surrey home ‘as part of already ongoing investigation’

Police tape up at a Surrey home within a block of a Nov. 11 murder scene

Rainbow benches installed outside Delta rec centres

The benches are among several initiatives adopted in July aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion

VIDEO: Ron MacLean says he doesn’t believe former co-host Don Cherry is racist

Sportsnet fired Cherry on Nov. 11, two days after controversial on-air comments during ‘Coach’s Corner’

B.C. mom, kids on bike turned away from Tim Hortons drive-thru

Car-free for years, Charity Millar ‘felt gross’ being denied service

No turn signals, double-parking among top concerns for B.C. drivers: poll

Two-thirds of B.C. drivers said that not using turn signals was their biggest pet peeve

Man accused in fatal Shuswap church shooting also charged with arson

Parmenter family home badly damaged by fire a month before killing

Union to prepare for picket lines, announce new measures in transit strike escalation

Unifor said the move comes after a ‘failure by the employer to make new offers at the bargaining table’

Workers union calls strike vote in SkyTrain labour dispute

Mediated talks are scheduled to begin Nov. 28

‘Our culture is not a religion,’ Indigenous educator tells B.C. Supreme Court in case of smudging at school

Mother also gave evidence Tuesday in Nanaimo courtroom, case continues Wednesday

B.C. man who killed Belgian tourist near Boston Bar gets life in prison, no parole until 2042

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

Trudeau to take sober approach to unveiling new cabinet for minority mandate

Liberals survived a bruising campaign that diminished Trudeau’s stature as a champion of diversity

Most Read