This Sunday the community will be honouring firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty.
The Second Sunday of September is set aside to honour fallen firefighters and the town flags will be flown at half staff on September 13.
In Drumheller’s short history, the Drumheller Fire Department has seen two tragedies where men fighting to protect the community were killed in action. They were Harry Lefebre in 1937 and Adolf Guterson in 1951.
Last year the Drumheller Fire Department celebrated its centennial and the Mail had the privilege to speak with Tony Lefebre, the son of Harry Lefebre, who was the first Drumheller firefighter who was killed in the line of duty in 1937.
Tony was only about 12 years old on February 2, 1937, when he was coming home from playing hockey, walking up Centre Street. The department was responding to a fire at the Vickers store. That was the last time Tony saw his father alive. An explosion from the back of the store where the coal oil and gas were stored, shot debris in the air. Harry Lefebre was killed when a brick struck him. He was 42.
Tony was in Drumheller to mark the centennial last October.
Harry was the brother-in-law of Fire Chief William Guterson, and tragically the second fatality of a firefighter in action also struck his family. This time it was in1951 when the Napier Theatre caught fire.
Adolf Guterson was one of 11 of Chief Guterson’s children. His youngest daughter Mary recounted to the Mail the story of when her older brother perished at the young age of 23.
On December 5, 1951, Mary was working as a telephone operator and was working the night shift the fire call came in at 5 a.m.
According to Mary, it may have been a cigarette that was improperly extinguished, and it smoldered near the horsehair seats in the balcony. She passed her father on the street on the way home as the theatre burned and saw her brother at home as he headed out to fight the fire.
Adolf was battling the blaze when a wall of the theatre fell on Adolf right in front of William.
He was taken to the hospital by Allard’s Taxi and then by train to Edmonton for medical attention. He died on December 16, 1951.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Firefighters Annual Memorial Ceremony has been cancelled. However, Drumheller will be recognizing the fallen by flying the flag at half staff this Sunday, September 13.
The Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation was created to honour and remember firefighters who have been killed in the line of duty and to support their families.