Dedicated Service of Volunteer Firefighters and Fighting Fires
Is there anyone who does not perk up their ears when hearing the strident sounds of alarming fire sirens and the roar of horns blaring as firemen on their big well equipped fire trucks go racing down streets and navigating their way through crowded intersections on their way to fight the latest fire or save people from the latest calamity?
Sometimes this haunting sound awakens one in the dead of night from sound slumber.
At other times one might be enjoying the peaceful sights and sounds of birds chirping and butterflies alighting on nearby flowers lazily drinking some nectar when suddenly one's attention is arrested by the familiar sounds of fire trucks and volunteer firemen breaking the quietude racing towards the latest emergency call.
Where would we be without the dedicated service of these men and women who sacrifice their own time in order to help serve and aid others in their community?
All firefighters and emergency medical personnel that respond to emergency calls are heroes and deserve our respect and admiration for the dangerous jobs undertaken for the greater good of our homes, surroundings and even our very lives.
But to know that around seventy-one percent of all firemen in the United States (according to Wikipedia) are volunteers...that in my opinion calls for these unsung heroes to be granted even more of our esteem.
They interrupt their lives at all times of the day and night to help others in need and they receive no payments of money for their service.
Training to be a Fireman
We have a good friend whose son is a volunteer fireman. Whether night or day, he is always at the ready to give his best effort to address whatever situation arises when he gets the call to help.
From what I have gathered, volunteer firefighters have to meet certain requirements which might vary a bit from county to county, state to state and certainly in different countries.
- There are age requirements and physical fitness requirements which makes perfect sense. At times depending upon the circumstances, these firefighters are pushed to their limits of maximum endurance.
- They have to be able to lift weights and oftentimes are the difference between life and death. In the instance of a person who has passed out due to smoke inhalation or other causes these super heroes can be seen lifting and removing that person from the encroaching flames of a fire and taking them to safety where they then receive life support measures.
- Sometimes they are on their feet encased in their bulky and heavy firemen clothing for countless hours and even days at a time with minimum breaks for food and or rest.
This has certainly happened in many cases of virulent wildfires that are consuming everything in their path. These brave firefighters try to establish a foothold and keep addressing the erratic fires which often change course with a shift in the wind currents and try and save as much land, lodgings, animal and human life as possible.
Fighting with all of their might using all the equipment and manpower available (even at the risk of their own lives), tragedies are often averted or at the least lessened in severity.
One late afternoon several months ago when the Houston, Texas temperatures were topping out at over one hundred degrees day after relentless day, we heard a loud booming sound after which all of the electricity in our neighborhood was lost.
We would soon find out that a transformer in a neighbor's backyard had been the cause and it did not take long before the sirens of firetrucks were blasting the airwaves with their boisterous sounds.
When they were pulling up on our very street naturally they drew the attention of the nearby neighbors including us. We went outside to see what all the ruckus was about.
It turned out that the transformer box that had blown had also caught fire in a neighbor's backyard just two houses away from our home. It did not take long for the firefighters to extinguish the flames but some of them stayed until the electric company folks arrived to assure continued safety for those of us whose nearby houses could have been impacted had the faulty piece of electric equipment smoldered back to life.
As mentioned the heat was sweltering and yet these dedicated men were encased in their uniforms which had to be miserable under the circumstances. Of course those same uniforms protect their lives as they are fire, heat and water resistant when they are put to the test.
I took the photos of these volunteer firemen and the firetrucks from our front yard. Thank heavens it was not an actual house fire that caused them to be in our neighborhood.
One day recently when my friend was over here visiting her volunteer fireman son called her and sent her a picture of the smoke rising from a fire at Garden Ridge Pottery on the northern reaches of Houston. They could tell by the color of the smoke as to what the fire was doing.
The video below explains more about this aspect.
Firemen are trained in not only physical strength and stamina but must continually keep their firefighting skills up to date. This entails learning how to use all of the requisite firefighting equipment and different firefighting tactics to best advantage.
Sometimes by reading the smoke they can tell things like how hot a fire is and also if a building is in imminent danger of collapse which can save lives including their own. I did not realize that smoke damage alone can cause structures to fail so it is not only flames that do the damage.
Speaking of flames did any of you readers see the 1991 movie titled Backdraft?
I vividly remember seeing it with my mother and we both left the movie theater feeling amazed that anyone would purposely put themselves in danger by fighting fires with the potential of things like back-drafts and flash-overs suddenly and explosively erupting before them.
Fantastic movie that will have you on the edge of your seat! We were holding our breath at times during this movie!
Thank heavens we have brave men and women who are unafraid and who have enough love of humanity and dedicate themselves to helping others in need by fire fighting and also offering emergency medical services!
There is no way to tell when any one of us might be in need of services from these highly trained individuals who keep their fire-fighting skills up to date. It could be a highway accident involving a fuel spill, a kitchen accident where flames from a sudden fire on the stove gets out of hand, a careless cigarette butt cast aside that starts a forest fire or any number of other scenarios that signals a call to these dedicated individuals.
In some cases being a volunteer fireman can eventually lead to a paying job as a city employed fireman, but for the most part and in the majority of areas country-wide, most people rely upon the services of volunteer firemen to save us from instances when fires endanger structures, lives and livelihoods.
The next time we encounter a volunteer fireman or EMT (emergency medical technician) we should thank them for their dedicated service. They are all truly unsung heroes who live and work among us but who rise to the occasion of assisting others at a moments notice.
© 2011 Peggy Woods