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Firefighters honoured

Brent Reaney
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 30/05) - The families of Yellowknife's fallen firefighters were given the international union's medal of honour during a memorial at Yellowknife Community Arena, Tuesday.

For the second time in two days, hundreds gathered to remember Lieut. Cyril Fyfe, 41, and firefighter Kevin Olson, 24.

International Association of Fire Fighters President Harold Schaitberger presents the union's medal of honour to Kevin Olson's family during a memorial ceremony Tuesday. - Aaron Whitfield/NNSL photo

Fyfe, an 18-year department veteran, and Olson, just 10 days into his first job, were killed after a shed roof collapsed while they were fighting a March 17 fire.

Before speaking, Olson's father Brent asked the Yellowknife firefighters to stand.

"Me and my family just want to salute you," he said. "You're our heroes. You're our protectors. And most of all, you're our friends."

Yellowknife's union representative Craig Halifax, and union president Harold Schaitberger presented the families with the gold medals of honour.

A 30-member honour guard, which stretched the length of the stage, saluted during the presentation.

The names of the two men will also be etched into the union's granite wall of honour in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"They'll be alongside their brothers and sisters who have fallen," said Schaitberger.

One thousand and eighty one firefighters - 343 of whom were killed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the United States - have died in the line of duty since 1990, Schaitberger said.

Fire Chief Mick Beauchamp also presented fire helmets to the families.

Dozens of images set to music on a screen at the front of the arena provided a glimpse into the lives of the two men.

Politicians, including Premier Joe Handley, Yellowknife South MLA Brendan Bell, and Mayor Gord Van Tighem, expressed condolences to the families.

Western Arctic MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew sent a statement.