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Because We Are Firefighters
WRITTEN BY : Rebecca Richardson / FireFighting.com
E-Mail: ladyfirefighter@prodigy.net , DATE POSTED: 6/18/01 11:28:00 PM

As we read the papers and watch the news, we hear that yet another firefighter has fallen in the line of duty, three to be exact. On Father's day the ultimate sacrifice was made by Harry Ford, John Downing and Brian Fahey of the FDNY.

As I watched the news coverage, it occured to me that we as firefighters are in one of the few professions that has the potential for us to be killed doing our job on a daily basis.

Only firefighters, law enforcement officers, and soldiers deal with this as an accepted part of their jobs.

We are pulled from sleep in the dead of the night and asked to awaken and be alert. We are put into conditions that are not compatible with human life. We see things that many people go their entire lives without seeing. How many civilians really have any concept of what it is we do?

Every fire we respond to has the potential to be the last. The smallest fire has the potential to be deadly. When we leave to go to work in the morning or respond from our home to answer our pager's shriek, it may be the last time.

Why do we do it? It certainly isn't for the money. We don't make much and many of us do it for free.

It isn't for the glory. There is no glory when you are cleaning the apparatus after a call, just lots of hard work and aching muscles.

When you ask a firefighter why they do what they do you will get a variety of answers ranging from "I like the adrenalin" to "I want to help people." But the truth goes much deeper.

You go through the fire academy to learn about firefighting. Then you become a firefighter.

When I say "become a firefighter," I literally mean that. Being a firefighter becomes an integral part of who you are. It's not just a job we do, it becomes what we are. Your experiences on the job shape you and leave their mark on you. You become something more than you were before.

That's not something you can explain to someone who isn't a firefighter. You can't explain the feeling in your gut about doing this job. You can't explain the feeling of fellowship you have for firefighters everywhere. If you're a firefighter in Florida or Hawaii, when a firefighter loses his life in Texas, you feel it as if it had been someone from the department right down the road. Distance means nothing. It doesn't matter that you had never heard their name before, you feel the loss. Perhaps part of that also stems from the knowledge that it could just have easily been you. Fire does not discriminate.

We have probably all envisioned our family hearing a knock at the door at 2 a.m. How will they react when they answer it to see a Chief at the door, hat in hand? Will they be all right?

As they death toll grows for 2001 we are forced to face our own mortality. We wonder if our number is closer to being called. And yet, we still do what we do.


Because we are firefighters.

Change your smoke detector batteries every time the clock "springs ahead" or "falls back". Most smoke detectors recommend that you use Alkaline batteries.

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