Story contributed by www.dailygleaner.com
A picture of a Fredericton firefighter checking his equipment before heading back to fight a major house fire last year has earned The Daily Gleaner staff photographer Stephen MacGillivray an international award.
The veteran news photographer was honoured Monday night with the International Association of Fire Fighters' media award for best news photo at a newspaper with a circulation of fewer than 100,000 copies.
MacGillivray's photo shows a Fredericton firefighter checking his oxygen regulator while a colleague changes the air bottle strapped to his back. In the background, smoke billowing out of a Springhill Road home is lit up by flames coming out of the roof.
Firefighters had to contend with frigid temperatures as they battled the Boxing Day 2008 blaze that destroyed the home.
Members of IAFF Local 1053, which represents Fredericton's firefighters, submitted MacGillivray's photo for the award.
MacGillivray said having his work recognized in a category that includes his peers from across North America is an honour.
He said he's happy to be able to give newspaper readers a regular glimpse of the dangers firefighters face.
"It's important to show what they do and what they will put on the line to save people and their homes," said MacGillivray, who sometimes shows up on the scene of a fire shortly after the first fire truck.
"I've seen (firefighters) rush into a burning house because a neighbour wasn't sure if anyone was inside," he said.
"I have the highest respect for all of the first responders - firefighters, police officers and paramedics - because of what they do and because of how they do it. We all hope we never have to call on their services, but they are there for us 24 hours a day."
Doug LeBlanc, president of IAFF Local 1053 and president of the Atlantic Provinces Professional Firefighters Association, said members have long recognized MacGillivray's professionalism as he chronicles firefighters' work.
"Steve has always showcased the profession as a very honourable one," LeBlanc said Monday.
"We recognize how professional his photography is; the pictures are incredible."
LeBlanc, who was called to the Boxing Day fire, said it was a particularly tough fire.
"It was cold and damp that night. It took a long time to put the fire out and make sure all the hot spots were extinguished," LeBlanc said.
"The house was totalled, but our crews did a phenomenal job stopping the fire. A lot of personal effects belonging to the residents were salvageable."
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