Fire Chiefs, Association Presidents, distinguished guests, colleagues, and especially to our firefighters, family of the firefighters, and friends of the firefighters.

Welcome to this memorial service. We're here today to remember your colleagues, your friends, your family members, loved ones who sacrificed themselves for people they had never met in a service of something greater than themselves: our shared humanity.

As long as there have been firefighters, there have been firefighters who have made such a sacrifice. It's hard for us to imagine, but there was a time when fires threatened much more than a few homes or buildings. They would spread quickly, and consume entire city blocks. In the great fires of history, many thousands lost their lives. Tens of thousands lost their homes.

Since then, not only has firefighting technology come a long way, so has fire safety, because you have taught us how to prevent fires and be safe, so that fires don't happen in the first place.

The number of lives you have saved through prevention can't be calculated, but it should never be underestimated, and if a fire does break out, we know that you'll come when you're called, and we know that if duty calls you to make a sacrifice, you will answer that call no matter what.

The families of the 31 firefighters being honored today can attest to that. 13 million Ontarians who will sleep peacefully tonight because you're on the job can attest to that.

The fact is, we're all safer, we are all more secure, because men and women who share the same values, who ride in the same trucks together and are first at the scene together are out there everyday protecting us, and we are eternally and profoundly grateful for that.

Above all, we are thankful for your courage. Not only for the courage you show when you rush into a building that it is on fire, but for your quiet, everyday courage you show us as leaders, as true public servants.

From the firefighter who comes to my wife Terri's classroom to teach five year olds about safety, to the many who volunteer in their community to instruct us on fire prevention, to the countless who raise money for various charities, you are all our unsung, everyday heroes who know that at any time, you could be called upon to exhibit extraordinary courage under extraordinary circumstances, and while it's hard for many of us to imagine what that's like, we know exactly how grateful we are.

Today is my great honor and privilege, on behalf of 13 million Ontarians, to say to all the firefighters gathered here and in particular, to the families of the 31 firefighters we honor today, thank you for your courage.

Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your sacrifice. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you. We're proud of you, and we ask that you stay safe.


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