Graham Emslie would have done it all over again. In a heartbeat.
Even after cancer took over his body — a diagnosis linked to a 35-year career as a firefighter — he wouldn’t have changed a thing.
“When he was sick, we asked him if knowing what he knew, would he change anything,” said daughter Tiegan Scott.
“His response was, ‘Absolutely not.’ He would choose that job, knowing the outcome, every day of the week.”
Captain Emslie, who died in December of 2016, three years after retiring from the service, was honoured in Colorado Springs, Colorado recently
at the IIAF 2018 Fallen Firefighter Memorial.
His was one of 271 names added to the Wall of Honour, which commemorates fallen firefighters from the U.S. and Canada.
Members of Emslie’s family along with retirees and active service members were on hand for the ceremony, which not only recognizes those who died in the line of duty, but those who succumb to occupational illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and post-traumatic stress.
“He was the guy everyone loved,” said Scott. “Which showed by the turnout of firefighters that traveled to Colorado.”
Emslie began his career serving Sarnia Township/Clearwater in 1977, and was promoted to Lieutenant of what is now the Sarnia Fire Rescue Service in the late 1990’s, then captain — a rank he held until retirement.
“He was the guy that would wear red socks to lighten the mood of the stress that went along with the job,” she added. “And he was the guy that would say, ‘Hey, don’t get too worried. We didn’t start this fire. We are here to put it out and help out.”
Emslie also spent years volunteering at Heaven’s Wildlife Rescue Rehabilitation & Education Centre.
“I don’t even know how many drives he took to Peterborough to take an injured turtle,” his daughter said.
She recalls family Christmas’ spent at the firehall, and growing up watching a brotherhood unfold among her dad and fellow firemen.
“We needed a new roof on our first house and ten to 15 firefighters were there to help,” she said. “This is how they worked, helping each other.”