May 4 is International Firefighters Day and a great opportunity to commemorate these first responders for all that they do for their communities. Let's take the time to dive a little deeper into what international firefighters' day is all about and how we can participate in our own ways.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

How did International Firefighters Day begin?

International Firefighters Day began in the most humble of ways. Created by the Australian volunteer firefighter JJ Edmondson, the day of remembrance was established after a singular event that prompted her to take action.

On December 2, 1998, a wildfire was raging in Linton, Australia, a town about 93 miles west of Melbourne. The local crew was overwhelmed with the size of the fire and called for backup. One of the teams that came to assist was Geelong West Fire Brigade. Among them were Garry Vredeveldt, Chris Evans, Stuart Davidson, Jason Thomas, and Matthew Armstrong, who lost their lives fighting when their tanker caught fire.

The loss of these five brave men inspired Edmondson "to organize an internationally recognized symbol of support and respect for ALL firefighters and a date for which this could be coordinated worldwide" in 1999.

May 4 was chosen for a specific reason. It is the feast day of St Florian, who is the patron saint of all firefighters. He was the first firefighter of the Roman Empire, renowned for his bravery in his position.

How to recognize International Firefighters Day

The entire purpose of International Firefighters Day is to recognize all the brave individuals who serve their communities. As JJ Edmondson so eloquently puts it,

"The role of a firefighter in today's society – be it urban, rural, natural environment, volunteer, career, industrial, defense force, aviation, motorsport, or other is one of dedication, commitment and sacrifice – no matter what country we reside and work in. In the fire service, we fight together against one common enemy – fire – no matter what country we come from, what uniform we wear or what language we speak."

There are many different ways to celebrate the day, even if it's as simple as thanking a local firefighter.

The sound off

The official website for International Firefighters Day encourages first responders to sound off their sirens for 30 seconds in memory of firefighters who have been lost in the line of duty. The sirens are followed by one minute of silence in respect.

Wear blue and red

It is popular to wear blue and red on May 4 to showcase solidarity with all emergency responders, but especially firefighters. Displaying blue and red ribbons shows gratitude for those who have passed and responders who are still fighting vigilantly to this day. Ensure that the blue ribbon is covering the red one; symbolizing water over fire.

Show appreciation

The general public can celebrate the day by thanking their local fire department for all they do. You can do this by verbally expressing your gratitude or by donating to help support them in their efforts to protect the community. Another great way to show your respect is to be mindful of your actions outdoors by trying your best throughout the year to not contribute to the already high fire hazard that the world faces.

This May 4, take a moment to stop at noon local time for a minute of silence. Firefighters are continuously and bravely protecting us from the danger of fire.