Fire prevention month is a great time to pause and take time to think about how to protect your family and property from the devastation that can be caused by a frayed wire or overloaded electrical socket, an improperly stored household chemical, a malfunctioning heater or dozens of other hazards that could cause a fire in your home or workplace.
What better place to learn about those dangers than at your local firehouse?
See page two of this week’s edition for a list of area fire companies and their planned “open house” dates and times. Then plan to visit and talk to those who you depend on when you have a fire, accident or other disaster-related emergency.
The firefighters and fire police in our readership area are all volunteers. We are fortunate to have a dedicated group of volunteers willing to train, qualify and respond to the needs of the people in their community at a moment’s notice.
Volunteering for any service to one’s community is an honorable task. But being a volunteer in the fire service takes a special commitment by those who choose it. In addition to providing a vital service to the community, volunteer firefighters save their community hundreds of thousands of dollars each year!
For every planned-for, scheduled meeting or training session, fire service volunteers respond to eight emergency calls. In most cases, it takes more than 160 hours of training and testing before a new member can become qualified to respond to his or her first call.
Once certified, they respond at any hour, day or night. Within minutes of receiving an alarm, they drop what they’re doing, travel to the firehouse, don their firefighting gear and take their place on the truck. Like a modern-day militia, they are the minutemen of today.
What do these volunteers pay to perform their chosen task? They pay the price of losing precious time away from their friends and family. It is time they give to the people of the community that that they can never get back - a missed birthday or anniversary, an interrupted meal, a day at work, a night’s sleep, a happy time with the family or a quiet moment with a special person - these are just a few of life’s episodes that volunteer firefighters are willing to surrender when the call for help comes in.
Help them help you by attending one of their open house events and learning all you can about fire prevention. Then practice fire safety at home every day. When the opportunity to donate to your local fire company presents itself, do so. Buy a hoagie, attend a dance, enjoy their carnival, drop a few dollars in the boot. You never know when you will need their help, but you can count on the fact that they will always be there for you.
Within a few days, the president is expected to issue a proclamation for the American flag to be flown at half-staff honoring our nation’s firefighters for their heroism. That half-staff date will be Sunday, October 7, 2012. It is one of the most overlooked half-staff memorials and every firehouse and municipal building in the area should set an example for others and show their respect for this day.