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Firefighters : My Experience with True Heroes

Updated on March 18, 2015

Preparing to enter a burning building.

As a former newspaper photographer , I have worked on many different events. Everything from traffic accidents to sports events and more. I have had the pleasure of meeting some very fascinating people along the way. But I would have to say that my most memorable assignment was the day I was sent out to get interviews and photos with firefighters.

The plan was to detonate an explosive in an abandoned house for training purposes. It was my job to go in with the firemen , get the photos and get out before the fire and smoke got too out of had. Of course the firemen were with me the whole time so I felt completely safe. After the detonation , it was just a matter of seconds before the room was filled with smoke.

The heat was indescribable. I had to act quickly. I had only one chance to get the inside photos my editor wanted so I had to make each take count. After shooting 4 or 5 photos I heard the Chief shout at me asking if I had the photos I needed. There was so much smoke by then I held up my thumb rather than try to shout back. He immediately took me by the arm and quickly led me out of the house.

After being relieved to soak in the fresh air I began shooting the outside photos. As scary as it was , I knew the whole time I was safe with these great men. After it was all over and I got the photos I needed , I stayed around for a few minutes to give these wonderful guys the respect and thanks they so richly deserve. From that day on I had a new found respect for all of our firefighters across these United States of America.

These men and women risk so much to keep us all safe. I believe their salaries should at least be at the same level as law enforcement. They put their lives on the line every day. In 2013 , there were approximately 97 firefighter deaths and 65,880 injuries. Firefighters are under a lot of pressure in this type of job. Many of these deaths resulted from stress and exertion which led to heart attacks and other medical problems.

I should mention that these deaths and injuries were across the United States and not confined to just one state or area. According to one government agency ,...As of 2011 , police officers were making an average of $56,260 annually , while others were reporting averages of $41,110 to $69,990 annually.

In the same year , firefighters were reporting annual incomes of approximately 41,720 , while some were reporting annual incomes of $31,690 to $60,120. According to this government agency , these figures represent police officers putting in 40 hour work weeks. But it should be mentioned that firefighters put in as much as 40 to 56 hour work weeks. I believe both law enforcement and firefighters deserve good wages.

But I also believe their wages should be even. They both put their lives on the line each day , only in different ways. But they both are out there to protect us and they both do an amazing job.

I run into some of our local firefighters at least once a week at the market , where they are getting a few groceries to take back to the firehouse. I always try to make enough time to stop and talk to them and let them know how much they are appreciated for the work they do. If I had one wish for people , it would be for everyone to get as close as I have , to the work these brave people do and the hazards involved in keeping everyone safe. When you see it close and personal , it really gives you a better insight of this occupation. I salute them.

It was like being inside a large kiln. The heat was unbelievable.

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