Each year on the 10th day of the 10th month we are asked to remember firefighters who have lost their lives in the call of duty. While the number of deaths is not available in all states Queensland had lost 48 firefighters between 1877 and 2010, while SA has lost 10 in the line of duty.
Through the heroism of these brave men and women, many disasters have been lessened or averted around Australia.
The Adelaide Sunday Mail records one such occasion on April 26 1924. The steamer City of Singapore was berthed at Port Adelaide with a cargo of cars, tractors, motor parts, petrol, kerosene and oil.
Early in the evening smoke had been seen coming from ventilators and the fire brigade attended and contained the fire. Three firemen remained aboard the ship as a precaution, but at 10.30pm a large explosion ripped through the ship and broke its back.. All three firefighters were killed in the subsequent blaze - firemen Albert Greenham, Jim Hickey, and George Anderson.
A memorial was later erected at Cheltenham cemetery to honour the men who gave their lives fighting this disaster.
It seems timely to tell that story as 2012 is the year that the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) celebrates its 150th anniversary. Documents show the MFS was formed on 5 November 1862 and is now one of the oldest legislated (government) fire services in the world.
However there are similar stories of bravery and devotion to duty all around Australia. Some do not involve the sacrifice of life, rather severe injury or disability. It's a sobering thought that these people have sustained these while fighting to save our lives and property.
I'm rather glad there is a special day, as it strikes me that living firefighters often do not get much recognition.
I remember a fire that I was personally involved in, when I was far too concerned about the fate of my own property to think about what firefighters had done for me. I never did thank those guys.