Winnipeg LODD anniversary today
Feb. 4, 2008
A year ago today, Capts. Harold Lessard and Tom Nichols died while fighting a house fire in Winnipeg. Firefighters, family and friends will honour the two veteran Winnipeg firefighters in a private memorial service.
By Carey Fredericks
As tough as it is to accept line-of-duty deaths, the loss of Lessard and Nichols has brought some positive change.
New procedures governing incident response and communications in Winnipeg are coming, along with better academic and on-the-job training for all 1,100 members of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.
Nichols, 57, and Lessard, 55, were killed by a "black fire" – “turbulent, super-dense smoke accompanied by extreme heat” in a two-storey house. Firefighters Ed Wiebe, Lionel Crowther, Scott Atchison and Darcy Funk were also injured in the Feb. 4, 2007, blaze
Funk and Atchison returned to work after short recovery periods. Crowther recently went back to work. Wiebe suffered burns to most of his body and is slowly recovering.
The Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioner is pressing for changes to the building code that would require use of a thicker fireguard between houses and attached garages to prevent fire from spreading. The Winnipeg fire was found to have started in an attached garage due to careless smoking.
Still, it’s a difficult anniversary.
"This is a tragedy that keeps going. It's not just one incident, and then firefighters go back to a normal life," Alex Forrest, president of the United Firefighters of Winnipeg, told the Winnipeg Sun.
"We wished this anniversary would never come. We don't want this to be a yearly thing, where it becomes like a memorial. That would be too hard to go through every year."