To date, my department has lost FOUR of our own in the Line of Duty/ On-Duty. All of these were killed/died prior to me joining the department. I did have the opportunity to meet the four families of our fallen during our Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service that was held at the end of August. I wrote a short piece on the article here.
At the end of the ceremony, I had a few moments to spend with the family after we unveiled our Memorial Wall. I made note of the fact that the deaths had occurred from 1949-1988. During that time period, communication had been lost between our department, our members, and our fallen firefighter’s families. Through retirements, new hires, and the years between the deaths, there was a definite gap of time that little or no communication had taken place with most of the families. I extended the offer that if the families needed ANYTHING for them to call. I wasn’t pointing blame at anyone…I was only extending our hands and shoulders with the families.
While I was camping this week, my phone rang. I recognized the number because I had called it on numerous occasions during the planning/ researching that was involved leading up to the ceremony. On the other end of the phone, I heard a hesitant and soft voice reaching out for help. The gentleman reminded me of how he believed the invitation to be sincere, and he stated he NEEDED help.
The man on the other end of the phone that day was a son that lost his father too soon. The gentleman’s mother lost her husband too early. The phone call consisted of a few requests of transportation due to some medical conditions that have arisen since our ceremony. While I knew he was hesitant to call, I was glad that he did. It reminded me of my words to the families on the day of the ceremony, and it reminded me that we have a DUTY to uphold.
It is not uncommon to hear our brothers and sister around the firehouse to say “If you need anything, let me know”. While the open invitation is often never requested, we need to all realize that it may be. It is our job, our duty, and our responsibility to take care of our own. If we have a brother or sister in need, we should be by their side every step of the way.
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