Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Firefighters from across Continent Attend Funeral for Slain Montreal Colleague

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Firefighters from across Continent Attend Funeral for Slain Montreal Colleague

Article excerpt

Funeral held for Montreal firefighter

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MONTREAL - A Montreal firefighter who died in highly unusual circumstances in the line of action took 16 years to land his dream job -- on his 37th birthday.

As thousands of firefighters gathered Friday to pay a final tribute to Thierry Godfrind, the story of his commitment to the profession came to light.

The 39-year-old first tried to become a firefighter in 1994 but found himself with few job prospects at the end of his studies. Godfrind moved on, getting a degree in business administration and working in a field related to his academic achievements.

But the urge to be a firefighter never left him.

That devotion eventually cost Godfrind his life when he was struck July 13 by a fire truck that had transported him to the scene of a blaze.

"It's a calling, it's not just a job," said Richard Liebmann, a division chief with the Montreal fire department.

Liebmann did not know Godfrind, but learned the late firefighter returned to school and earned a college degree in fire prevention in 2008. He spent two years volunteering in a small town before Montreal came calling in 2010.

"He was hired on his 37th birthday (March 15), so it was his dream and even though he tried to do something else, he ultimately came back to the fire service because it was something that called to him very strongly," Liebmann said.

One man who took classes with him in 1994 said Godfrind was courteous and nice and in his element at the academy. Paolo Rehel said the timing was poor as Montreal had gone on major hiring sweeps in 1992 and again in 1994 just before he completed his classes.

"He finished in 1994 and finally found work in 2010, so it gives you an idea of his personality," said Rehel, who now works in the union movement.

"He never gave up, it took him 16 years, but he never gave in, which is really impressive. …

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