06/20/07 — Heroes all: We don’t always think about what emergency personnel risk

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Heroes all: We don’t always think about what emergency personnel risk

When a fire alarm goes off or we see a rescue truck roll by with sirens blaring, we do not think about anything other than the excitement of knowing that there is an emergency somewhere.

We do not think about what might happen to the men and women who are behind the wheel, will tote the hoses or who wear the badges.

We just know that they are there, doing their jobs.

This week’s tragic loss of nine firefighters in South Carolina should remind us all — again — just what kind of risk these men and women take on each day.

They — and their families — never know when a routine call is going to result in a tragedy.

The firefighters who died in the blaze that claimed the furniture warehouse in South Carolina Monday were family men just doing their jobs. They did not stop to worry about the risk they were taking. They had sworn to protect life and property, and there was a fire to put out.

The building they went into did not have a sprinkler system. So when the roof collapsed, nine members of the department were trapped inside. And now, this nation has the second-worst loss of lives since Sept. 11, 2001.

They did not know when they started their shifts that day that they would not return home. Their families did not know that the goodbyes they said that morning would be their last.

Heroes do not pause to think about such things. They just aren’t built that way. That’s what makes them special.

Wayne County residents are lucky to not only have a fine group of professional firefighters in multiple stations around the area, but a solid corps of volunteers as well.

All of them work hard each day to make sure their community is safe and sound — sometimes at great personal risk to their own lives and families.

Add to that list the number of emergency personnel and law enforcement officers who also have dangerous jobs that demand much time and risk, and you have a whole new round of heroes who deserve our respect and our thanks.

The tragic loss in Charleston is far away from here. Fortunately, we have not had an on-duty death this year.

But the stories we have heard this week should remind us all that finding heroes simply means looking down the street.

Published in Editorials on June 20, 2007 11:19 AM