Bronze plaques stolen from Edmonton Firefighters Memorial for second time

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Five more bronze plaques have been stolen from the Edmonton Firefighters Memorial Plaza in Old Strathcona after the site was previously vandalized in July.

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Noel Bugnet, chairman of the Edmonton Firefighters Memorial Society, said the five plaques are believed to have gone missing from the plaza memorializing fallen firefighters at 10322 83 Ave. within the last five days.

“(They contain) the history of the fire department and why we do the things we do, so more informative plaques,” Bugnet said.

In July, the memorial society made a plea for the return of four stolen bronze plaques bearing the names of fallen Edmonton firefighters.

Those stolen plaques prompted the society to do some upkeep to the memorial plaza along with replacing the plaques for a cost of about $45,000.

“It’s taken us a little longer to get these plaques put back on, the ones that were stolen, because we’ve manufactured something it’s kind of like an anti-theft device so there’s a big steel plate going over top of the border of the new plaques so that they can’t be taken,” Bugnet said.

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“Now we have to look at another alternative for these plaques, and there is significantly more bronze on that front.”

Bronze plaques have been stolen from the Firefighters Memorial Plaza for the second time this year in Old Strathcona in Edmonton, November 5, 2021. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia
Bronze plaques have been stolen from the Firefighters Memorial Plaza for the second time this year in Old Strathcona in Edmonton, November 5, 2021. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia Photo by Ed Kaiser /20094479A

To replace the latest missing plaques alone, Bugnet believes it will cost upwards of $10,000.

He said as a charity, they have funds in reserve but the first action of vandalism took a chunk out of their savings.

“We have a nest egg but again it doesn’t take long, we don’t have that much money. If one other act of vandalism happens, especially if it’s a major act of vandalism, we’re going to be almost out of money,” he said.

He noted the community stepped up previously, with private citizens and businesses donating money which “helped tremendously.” The memorial society will be looking at fundraisers in the future to cover the latest vandalism.

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Bugnet said it’s frustrating to have more plaques stolen and believes someone is either doing it out of desperation or they don’t understand the damage they are causing. He is asking whoever is stealing the plaques to “please stop.”

“If you have the plaques still, please return them, no questions asked. But you’re damaging something that means a tremendous amount to a lot of people. This isn’t affecting one family or one person, it’s affecting many generations of people,” Bugnet said.

“This is all run by volunteers and now we have to try and raise money to fix this and it’s heartbreaking. We’d much rather be using our money to help other families and help our members.”

Bugnet said the society is looking at options on how to best secure the site and will be discussing it with Edmonton police and potentially the City of Edmonton.

“In a 25-year history we’ve never had back to back acts of vandalism like this in such a short turnaround,” he said.

ajunker@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JunkerAnna

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