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Our First Responders and Domestic Defenders: Firefighters

Updated on October 18, 2013
Source

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his
friends. ~John 15:13 (Bible, KJV)

Our Mission Statement

CARE about the people we serve

PREPARE through training and education

PREVENT loss and minimize suffering

RESPOND as a professional team

RESTORE balance to our community

Source: West Palm Beach Fire Rescue Team, Unit 7

A small red flame burst forth from the toaster and quickly climbed the kitchen curtain to embrace the ceiling fan blades circling above. The young mother grabbed a towel and swatted at the flames but they paid little heed to her efforts. Hungrily, they licked at the wood cabinets and burned brighter. Now, smoke curled over the sink and began to fill the room.

Dropping the towel, while shouting to her children to follow her outside, she snatched her cell and dialed 9-1-1. Within minutes, a massive red truck with sirens wailing pulled up and into the driveway. The first responders unit went into action. This day, a home and family was saved; thanks to the quick response and skills of the community firefighting team.

What is a firefighter?

—You might be a firefighter if your kids are afraid to get into a water fight with you.

—Author unknown

You might be a firefighter if you've ever smoked and there wasn't a cigarette in sight.

—Author unknown

You might be a firefighter if "climbing the corporate ladder" had nothing to do with career advancement —Author unknown

You might be a firefighter if the microwave goes off and you run out of the house thinking it was your pager. –Author unknown

All men are created equal, then a few become firemen. —Author unknown

Every home should keep a fire extinquisher handy in the kitchen.
Every home should keep a fire extinquisher handy in the kitchen. | Source

Take a Quiz (Source: FEMA.gov, 2004)


view quiz statistics

The Role of Firefighters

October is Fire Safety Month and across the nation many communities will get a first hand look through station tours at what it takes to meet the needs of a community when it comes to safety. Many of us have little knowledge of the requirements it takes to become a firefighter. And we do not realize putting out fires is not the only responsibility they perform for the general population.

A firefighter is called upon to put out fires of different nature; for example, forest, fuel or structure. In addition to this he or she may handle crisis situations such as helping trapped individuals in an accident, search and rescue, medical calls, or environmental issues such as an invasion of bees. They also conduct first aid classes and provide CPR training. Many of our schools host fire departments during this month to demonstrate prevention techniques, display fire trucks and equipment, and encourage a community spirit.

Additionally, the fire department inspects sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers and safety hazards in companies and other business structures. They offer classes on home fire safety and safety hazards, as well as carry out active public relations work.

What do firefighters do when there are no fires in the community? Between emergencies, they may work on vehicle maintenance, clean and repair gear, work on physical fitness (a must for keeping in shape and at top performance), update pre-fireplans, and run through drills. And of course, cooking is a necessary past-time to refuel and keep the body healthy.

The role of a firefighter encompasses many professions, he or she may be called upon to act as a social worker, psychologist, teacher, police officer, mechanic, or technician at any time in the line of daily performance. When a person dials 9-1-1 they may require services out of the ordinary such as unlocking a car, fixing a broken water pipe, or getting the family cat down from a tree. No matter what time of day it is, our firefighters are fully prepared to come to the rescue.


A Word From Lieutenant Troy T. Schurter

What is the cost?

Did you know that the cost of fire in the US is over 165 billion each year? (source: fema.gov) This cost includes fire prevention, cost of training, insurance and medical care. It is quite a huge figure, but it has decreased over the years due to education of the general population. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) have done a tremendous job of informing citizens on the importance of fire safety in the home. According to Operations Lieutenant, Troy T. Schurter, of the West Palm Beach Fire Department, kitchen fires are the most common occurrence when called to extinguish a fire. In 2011 alone, there were over 166 thousand home cooking fires, and two of every five home fires start in the kitchen. Most were due to leaving the stove unattended and ignition of food or material. (source: nfpa.org)

The following table exhibits what people can do to increase home safety.

Safety Checklist for Homes

Home Safety
Smoke Alarms
Fire Escape
Adult supervision of cooking in the kitchen at all times
Ensure there is a working smoke alarm on every floor/level of home
Design and post a fire escape plan for your home
People who smoke must do so outside of the home
Install smoke alarms outside of every bedroom
Plan for two exits from your home
Matches and lighters must be up and away from children
Test smoke alarms monthly; ensure the sound is loud enough to awake sleeping people
Practice fire drills and know what to do when the alarm sounds
Space heaters must be at least 3 feet from walls, furniture, flammable material
Replace smoke alarms every 10 years
Make sure all exits in the home are clear of toys, trash, etc.
Candles must be in a safe place, unreachable by children and blown out before leaving the room or going to bed
 
Pick a meeting place for the family or residents outside the home after escaping a fire; practice twice yearly
 
 
Teach children how to dial the fire department
 
Source: Fire Safety Checklist, NFPA 2005
 

Tour of Local Fire Unit 7, West Palm Beach, FL

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Located on Okeechobee Blvd, the station serves the heart of the local community.The emergency vehicles are equipped to handle crisis involving medical needs. Equipment must be organized and ready for emergency calls. A view of the cab. Everything looks in place!Interesting features we never really see - all so important!A full library is accessible to the firefighters.  Keeping in top physical shape is a must for all firefighters. The mult-purpose room is used to conduct training and offer classes on safety. A typical bunk room where they can rest and get some sleep between calls. The media/entertainment center where one can get away from the job's intensity for a little while. The Mess Hall or kitchen.  This evening homemade pizza was on the menu (we just missed the previous evening's beef stroganoff!).
Located on Okeechobee Blvd, the station serves the heart of the local community.
Located on Okeechobee Blvd, the station serves the heart of the local community.
The emergency vehicles are equipped to handle crisis involving medical needs.
The emergency vehicles are equipped to handle crisis involving medical needs. | Source
Equipment must be organized and ready for emergency calls.
Equipment must be organized and ready for emergency calls.
A view of the cab. Everything looks in place!
A view of the cab. Everything looks in place!
Interesting features we never really see - all so important!
Interesting features we never really see - all so important!
A full library is accessible to the firefighters.
A full library is accessible to the firefighters.
Keeping in top physical shape is a must for all firefighters.
Keeping in top physical shape is a must for all firefighters.
The mult-purpose room is used to conduct training and offer classes on safety.
The mult-purpose room is used to conduct training and offer classes on safety.
A typical bunk room where they can rest and get some sleep between calls.
A typical bunk room where they can rest and get some sleep between calls.
The media/entertainment center where one can get away from the job's intensity for a little while.
The media/entertainment center where one can get away from the job's intensity for a little while.
The Mess Hall or kitchen.  This evening homemade pizza was on the menu (we just missed the previous evening's beef stroganoff!).
The Mess Hall or kitchen. This evening homemade pizza was on the menu (we just missed the previous evening's beef stroganoff!).
Memorials in out cities remain a wonderful reminder of our local firefighting heros.
Memorials in out cities remain a wonderful reminder of our local firefighting heros. | Source

Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Survival

During our visit to the fire station, we asked our tour guide, Lieutenant Schurter, what his biggest concern was when called to fight a fire. Outside of getting people to safety, he feared losing one of his team members. They are a family and depend upon each other during these incidents. He said it only takes one slight error to cause a tragedy. Constant awareness of rules of engagement for survival are what keep units functioning together.

  • Size up your tactical areas of operation
  • Determine the occupant survival profile
  • Extend VIGILANT and Measured risk to protect and rescue savable lives
  • Go in together, stay together, come out together
  • Maintain continuous awareness of your air supply, situation, location and fire conditions
  • Constantly monitor fireground communications for critical radio reports
  • Your are required to report unsafe practices or conditions that can harm you. Stop, evaluate and decide.
  • Maintain frequent two-way communication, keep interior crews informed of changing conditions
  • Declare a Mayday as soon as you THINK you are in danger.

(Source: Excerpts: West Palm Beach Fire Station 7, "I Want You To Stay Safe & Survive")

I for one do not envy the role a firefighter must play to keep us safe every day. They must maintain a positive mindset, remain strong and never quit. Their loved ones keep a prayer on their lips and a watch for their return at the end of the day. The next time you pull over for a firetruck, remember to pause and say a prayer for these hometown heroes.


© 2013 Dianna Mendez

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    • word55 profile image

      Word 2 years ago from Chicago

      Great hub teaches. You know a lot about me. My brother and I were both, 1st responders and firefighters in Chicago for over 22 years. I became a fire inspector as well. This deserves to be HOTD. God bless you!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Amen to this, Teaches, "The next time you pull over for a firetruck, remember to pause and say a prayer for these hometown heroes." So often lately I wonder why traffic fails to pull over for a firetruck or emergency vehicle. If their house was on fire they would want the firefighters to get there right away.

      You've provided valuable information here on fire prevention and practice drills for households.

    • Mary Tilden profile image

      Mary Tilden 2 years ago from Winters, California

      A very informative hub, thank you for sharing. I, for one, have never known a firefighter and didn't know what one could do, other than point a hose at a fire. This tells me where our tax dollars are going. Thanks again!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Nell, VEllur, and RTalloni,

      Thanks for your visit here and support of our local heroes. Have a wonderful week.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Highlighting this hub on firefighters seems appropriate today since so many have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to others. Thanks again for an important and useful post here!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      Came back to read again, great hub. Firefighters are our everyday unsung heroes. Great hub.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Just came back for another read of these amazing people who save lives every day, voted up and shared!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Ologsinquito, they are my heroes for sure! Good to see you and enjoy your week.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      These first responders really are modern-day heroes.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Minnetonka, yes, God be with them and keep them safe. They are such real community heroes. Have a wonderful 2014.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Such a thoughtful and informative hub on our courageous firefighters and first responders. There is no adequate way to thank these heroes who put themselves in harms way. I am grateful that these men and women are called to this important mission. God Bless them all.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      JPSO138, I admire your bravery in serving others. Thank you! May you have a wonderful week.

    • JPSO138 profile image

      JPSO138 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      Hi teaches, I really appreciate your hub. I myself have worked as a firefighter and a paramedic in our area. Truly the work is risky but very fulfilling as we get the chance to save lives and properties.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Elias, I agree whole heartedly with supporting and praising our brave fire fighters. Enjoy your week!

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 4 years ago from Athens, Greece

      Very nice hub Teaches!

      I believe that we all should encourage and praise such important and dangerous occupations

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Millionaire, give that firefighter friend of yours my best wishes for serving so unselfishly. The firehouse tour was a wonderful time spent learning about these wonderful people.

      Jodah, thank you for serving as a fire fighter for the safety of others. I do believe this station has a few volunteers as well, they are priceless people! Enjoy your weekend and stay safe. Blessings.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Well done teaches, This is the best article I have read on the role of fire fighters. I am actually a firefighter in a rural brigade. Our station is much more basic and we are only volunteers, dealing mainly with grass and bush fires, but it has its dangers none the less. Thank you for writing this and making everyone aware of a fire fighter's role.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

      I have a friend whose husband is a firefighter, and it constantly impresses me that someone is willing to put their life on their line to save a stranger. Thanks for the tour of this firehouse!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Pamela, it does take a special person to accept this great responsbility. I am so appreciative of their serving us each day. Blessings.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      I have the utmost respect for firefighters, and your hub is filled with excellent information. It is such a dangerous job; I guess it takes a special kind of person to put their life on the line this way. Awesome hub!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Rose, there are many of us who would not even think of volunteering our time to fight those bush fires. Those that do, are true heroes!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Midget, I can't thank them enough for what they do for all of us.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      I was very happy to find this hub. Firemen are heroes and deserve more recognition. They risk their lives for others, often sadly losing their own. Sadly in the NSW the devastating bush fires which have been going on for days both cevillians and firemen have lost their lives. They are indeed very special people.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      A profession that is very much underrated. We need to pay them due recognition indeed! Thanks for sharing!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Lyric, so sad about the loss of children's life in Logaan. That is sad. Yes, being prepared will help prevent fires. We can't say enough about these heroes. Be well and safe.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 4 years ago from West Virginia

      Teaches, another great article to the collection! Perfectly said and great information on fire fighters. ALL of them are true heroes, point blank. I love the reference to the Bible quote, that says it all. Imagine that, someone willing to risk their own life for people they don't even know. The value of life is so strong and fire fighters risk their won for the safety of others. Key points on being safe. We recently had a fire in Logan and two young children was lost, very sad. You should always be prepared with the right equipment. Well done Teaches.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Dr BJ, I admire these firefighters, but I don't believe I have the stamina to take on their responsibility. Yes, they are to be admired and thanked for what they do for us. Take care and stay safe, dear friend.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

      The bravery of firefighters as well as police officers, Dianna, is too often overlooked and taken for granted. Thanks for reminding us that they are, indeed, very special people. Just like your great quote: 'All men are created equal, then a few become firemen.' Voted up, m'dear.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Deborah, I just heard the fire engines this morning and remembered the men that I visited at the station. They put their lives on the line every day, as you say, and it is to be commended.

      RTalloni, the list is one that I hope families will at least check to see if they can improve their home safety. Thanks for the insight.

      Denise, great habits to keep! Wow, you are such wonderful people to take foster children under your wing. What a way to help others.

      Thank you to each of you for coming by and commenting. Have a wonderful and safe week.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      This is excellent information. More families need to be aware of these safety tips and take precautions to protect their families from fire hazards. We didn't realize how much went into it until we applied to be foster parents and had to add fire alarms, extinguishers, and a plan to our household. Since then, it has been a habit that we decided to keep.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks much for this vicarious field trip and for highlighting the skills, strengths, and courage of fire fighters and their units. It is good to be reminded of the safety check list--thanks for adding it!

    • Deborah-Lynn profile image

      Deborah-Lynn 4 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Thank you for writing this engaging hub, I have a deep respect for the commitment of Firefighters, Police and Military in the USA. They put their lives on the line for regular people like us. Hope you win the Best Hub Award!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      CrisSp, I salute your and am impressed with your unselfish dedication to mankind. You have my prayers and hugs.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Hi Rebecca! What wonderful lifesavers they are and so very much worth our respect and praise.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Blond Logic, yes indeed - they are heroes! Be safe and well.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      They said we have 8 in our city, doesn't seem like enough but they do get the job done. Have a wonderful week, Mary.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I hate to hear how intense they must be around the clock. Praying they remain safe. Thanks, Long Time, for your sharing what's happening in Australia. Be careful.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Ginger, I chuckled at those statements too, especially the microwave bell. I've answered my phone before on that ring! They are such great role models for our kids.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Alicia, they are wonderful, indeed!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Wonderful people, aren't they? It would be great to see them practicing drills. Take care.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Cleaner, I respect these servants more after visiting them last week.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      What a wonderful way to honor those heroes of 9/11. Yes, let us not forget what they sacrificed for others.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Bill, we don't think about how much these firefighters do until we need them sometimes. They are true heroes.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Crafty, So sad to hear of this loss of support for your town. Sounds like you have benefited so much from their service. Hope your town gets it all sorted out soon, you need these heroes.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      I am a trained firefighter at 37 thousand feet and I salute the brave and courageous firefighters we have in the world!

      Great hub, packed with useful information, very educational and a great tribute to our brothers and sisters in the field.

      Voting up and sharing!

      Salute!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks for a great tribute. What would we do without our first responders. They literally save lives everyday.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 years ago from Brazil

      Excellent hub. I didn't realize this was fire safety month.

      Everyone has varying opinions of public service workers but we all agree that firemen are heroes.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      Firefighters are the unsung heroes in our country. I couldn't help but think of the brave men who perished in the wild fires this past summer. I keep a fire extinguisher in my kitchen.

      Great photos of your WPB Firestation. At one time our small community depended on volunteers to fight fires; now, we have several fire stations.

      Voted UP and shared

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      We have hundreds of bushfires in Australia right now. Our rural firefighters are working around the clock and deserve our utmost respect. :) Voted up ++

    • ExpectGreatThings profile image

      ExpectGreatThings 4 years ago from Illinois

      I am so thankful for our first responders! Your section on "you might be a firefighter if..." made me chuckle :). I took my daughter's kindergarten class to the fire station last week for a tour. The men were so nice and friendly. It's amazing that they can fight fires so fiercely and be so gentle with the kids. Well done on this hub! - Ginger

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a great tribute to firefighters, Dianna. They do a wonderful and very useful job. Thanks for honoring them.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Firefighters are so brave, I had a work colleague who was a fireman or fire lady, she used to sit there working then the pager would go off and she would grab her helmet and run. We all just used to watch her in awe! I often sit and watch them practicing down by the river where they do hose practice, great read, voted up and shared! nell

    • cleaner3 profile image

      cleaner3 4 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      Teaches .. this is an awesome ,interesting and useful hub.. 3 in one . plus you put it into a great hub.. well written and very informative.. the men who sacrifice their lives to help and save other are worthy of the greatest respect as any I public service.. I commend you for this

      Michael

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Great Hub. One of the bike groups I ride with did a large group ride to Grapevine, TX this past 9/11 to dedicate a memorial to the 343 firefighters who lost their life on 9/11/01. Let us never forget!

      The Frog

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A dangerous job for sure; at times a thankless job, and one most of us would not want. Thank God there are those who answer the higher calling in life. Great tribute to them and very interesting, Dianna!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Excellent article. I served on a canteen truck for the local volunteer fire department in my early 20s. Our town is in turmoil right now. The fire department is bankrupt! It's so sad. Some of the firefighters that are there taught about fire safety when I went to elementary school. Now the thought of it closing is heartbreaking. It's right by my house. They rescued me when I fell off a chair trying to get the smoke detector to quiet down. I was pregnant with my first child and we had a microwave fire.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Till, I agree that volunteer firefighters are to be honored. They truly have a heart for helping others. Your family is awesome!!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Thank you, Vellur, Faith, Mhatter. Our firefighters are such a valued part of our communities. Just wanted to honor their work and personal effort.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      We would all be in one heck of a mess without firefighters that's for sure. If you haven't had direct contact with a firefighter in his/her official capacity surely a family member has.

      In addition to paid firefighters, volunteer firefighters are certainly community heroes who go above and beyond...a bit like Clark Kent/Superman....they live an ordinary life, have an ordinary job, etc. BUT when duty calls they drop everything to fight fires! I know, my father-in-law, husband, and now grandson have been volunteer firemen.

      Thanks for a great article with some nice pictures.

      Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome because they are and your hub is.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Here here. I totally agree and well done. thank you

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, great intro there, truly ... as well as the rest of the insightful hub here. A wonderful tribute to those who place their own lives in danger to save others' lives. I love that scripture at the top there. Well, I tried to pin this and it kept says "Whoops" so will return.

      Up and more and sharing

      God bless you, Faith Reaper

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Firefighters are very brave and self sacrificing. Without a second thought they jump in to put out a fire or save a victim. They are our everyday super heroes. Great hub, voted up.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I totally agree with you on this thought. What would we do without them? Keep safe and well, Jackie.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Firefighters really are some great people. All the time and risk they put in and many losing their lives. What would we do with out them? Great tribute. Up and sharing.