For all the things my blog followers “know” about me… you do not know that I come from a long line of volunteers. People who step up and step out to help not only family and friends but neighbors and the community. Why don’t you know this? Because people who volunteer for things usually don’t do it for the pat on the back. They do it because it is a trait they were born with. In this case, it is a fire that burns inside them.
Friends of mine recently lost their home to a catastrophic fire. That news has rocked me to my core, but what is disturbing is the amount of crap that has surrounded the fire fighters that responded. In my outrage, I do what I do best, I write.
It’s dark – middle of the night. The pager is blaring in the kitchen. My baby brother is crying in his crib. Lights go on, I hear my father storming through the house. My mother is trying to find his keys. They are both yelling. I hear the panic. My dad trying to put on his shoes with my mom trying to help. As he runs out the door I hear her scream, “be careful”. An enormous fire ripped through Princeton that night. My father was there.
My dad and I are out running errands. Pager goes off. I am 5 years old. We arrive at the scene and I see am old farm house with flames pouring out of the windows. My father grabs his gear out of the trunk and runs toward the house. A friend – fire fighter – tells me to sit in the back of the car and look out into the woods – away from the fire.
We are out as a family. Pager goes off. We drop my dad off and I can see the house is burning to the ground. My mom drives us home. I hear my dad on the radio. Giving direction, calling orders, setting up the scene. Then it goes quiet. ‘Where is daddy?” I ask. “Putting out the fire” my mother responds.
Fast forward 20 years. It’s the middle of the night again. This time the pager is in my bedroom because my husband is now a fire fighter. House is fully involved in Pennington. He leaves the house in less then 5 minutes. I call my father crying. ‘Daddy, it’s a real fire this time – a big one. He has never been in a real house fire.” (he has just graduated from the fire academy) “He will be ok. He has trained for this, he knows what he is doing – and no one will let him get hurt.”
10 more years later. Phone rings. “your brother is in the trauma unit. He fell through a wall that collapsed, landed on his back in the basement.” “Is he ok?” “We don’t know.”
These men are my family. My father, husband, brother, uncle, cousin, friends. MY FAMILY. They leave Christmas dinner to respond to a turkey you burnt because you were not paying attention. They get up in the middle of the night to rescue you, your children and your dog. They will cut you and your baby out of a crashed car. And they will cry silent tears for the ones they could not save.
Do not take lightly the work they have chosen to do. Because you know in your heart you probably could not do it yourself.
We don’t need your thanks. But maybe say a prayer for them.
Never forget… fire fighters run in when everyone else is running out. And their family wait at home praying for a safe return.