September 6, 2018 12:03 pm
Updated: September 6, 2018 1:16 pm

Toronto firefighters set pedals in motion for nearly 500-km ride

Firefighters from Toronto, Whitby, Hamilton and Ottawa gather to start a roughly 500 kilometre ride to a memorial in Ottawa to raise money and awareness for the Canadian Fallen Firefighter Foundation.

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It’s the second time firefighters from across Ontario are hopping on their bikes to pedal in honour of fallen firefighters from across Canada.

The memorial ride started Thursday morning from an east-end Toronto fire station and will end in Ottawa at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial on Friday.

Riders left fire station 243 (4560 Sheppard Ave. E.) at 7:30 a.m. and will ride almost 500 kilometres to the memorial site  — a roughly 23-hour cycling trip that will be split up into two days.

WATCH: Toronto firefighters hit the road in support of fallen comrades and their families

David Crossitt, the president of the Professional Firefighters Celtic Society as well as the organizer of the ride, said 26 firefighters are participating in this year’s ride.

“It’s quite an adventure. Today we’re covering about 260 kilometres. There’s 26 of us riding from across Ontario, from Hamilton, Whitby, Toronto and Ottawa as well,” he said.

The annual ride was started by the Professional Firefighters Celtic Society in 2017 to raise money for the memorial as well as raise awareness for firefighters who died in the line of duty. The goal is to raise $10,000 this year alone.

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The executive officer with the Toronto Professional Firefighters Association, Dan Vieira, told Global News his association is a proud sponsor of the event.

“We’re donating $1,000 to the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation on their behalf and we’re helping out and supporting in whatever way we can,” he said.

“You’re looking at a 500-kilometre, roughly, distance and they’re doing that over two days  — that should speak for itself. For most people that would be a daunting task but these men and women seem to be up to the challenge.”

Though the ride itself was only started in 2017, the first national ceremony was put on by the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation (CFFF) in 2004. The CFF is a group of individuals who said they recognized the need for a memorial and national ceremony to honour firefighters who died in the line of duty. The goal is to not only honour and remember fallen firefighters, but also to offer support to their families.

READ MORE: Toronto firefighters bike nearly 500 kilometres for fallen comrades

In an email from the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation (CFFF), a spokesperson told Global News the names of 10 new firefighters from British Columbia to Quebec will be honoured this year.

“The 10 line-of-duty deaths (LODDs) represent firefighters who have died while battling fires, drowning and occupational illnesses, which can be attributed to firefighting while performing their duties and protecting and serving their communities. These are true heroes,” the email said.

“In addition, 57 names will be added to the wall and they represent firefighters from the past who have just recently been recognized as a LODD.”

“We’re riding for the memorial. All of us firefighters know members of the fire department that are on that wall up there, worked with them as well, so it’s important for us to try and raise some funds,” Cossitt told Global News.

An official memorial service will be held in Ottawa on Sunday.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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