This I Believe

Emma - Hudsonville, Michigan
Entered on January 25, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

Volunteer firefighter: bravery, courage, strength. Disregarding one’s own safety by running into burning buildings, or rescuing victims in car crashes. All this while maintaining a normal existence, can make this a difficult job.

Firefighters have been given a level of respect for their job, but even more so since September 11, 2001. The bravery and sacrifice demonstrated by these individuals in those horrific days, showed the world “We are here to protect and serve.” Fire departments are staffed with either around the clock or volunteer firefighters based on need and population. Volunteer firefighters typically have a full time job outside of the department, and carry pagers on their belt that alert them to respond to their fire station for an emergency or call. The firefighters family may have to sacrifice a delicious dinner at Red Lobster, or any other scenario involving leaving your family at moments notice.

“All units responding from Georgetown fire stations one, two, and three, to possible barn fire at Wallinwood Golf Course.” The tones had barely ended when I heard three sets of feet racing out the door. My dad, the fire chief, immediately went to the scene to assess the situation. My brothers left in a rush trying to catch a truck at their 44th St. station. Station Number One. Curiosity drags me out of bed. I feel I need to be a part of the action. I am frustrated by my mom’s lack of enthusiasm, and her request for me to get the mail from the mailbox. Grudgingly, I went outside only to see clouds of billowing black smoke to the east. This was too much for me to take.

Following the smoke, we had no problem locating the fire. Getting to the scene was another story. It appeared that everyone else in town had the same idea. Firefighters directed traffic, attempting to keep order in the midst of chaos. The smell of smoke filled our lungs the closer we got to the center of attraction. My eyes focused at the origin of the smoke, where firefighters ran in and out of a fully engulfed barn, trying to save valuable equipment from destruction. My heart swelled with pride knowing that my dad and brothers were risking themselves to help someone else.

Since that time there have been multiple calls, some big, some small, but all met with the same amount of enthusiasm. Seeing firsthand the dedication and sacrifice of the firefighters I live with, gives me an appreciation for all firefighters. I believe we owe firefighters respect and gratitude. It takes a special kind of person to run into a burning building, when everyone else is running out.