As I write this, tears are welling up in my eyes. Using the U.S. Fire Administration website and recent news, it appears that we have lost eleven (11) Brothers and Sisters in the this month of which, there are four more days. Most recently, we lost three colleagues from the City of Baltimore fire Department.
Line-of-Duty Deaths are nothing new to us. They are too often considered, "part of the job." It is time we change how we look at LODD's. For while we all agree that, no matter career, part-pay, volunteer or WUI, there is a risk in being a firefighter. Then again, there is significant risk for those brave men and women who install huge windmills across the country. There is a huge risk to be on a crab or fishing boat in the Bering Sea. Yet, in my humble opinion, we are sometimes too casual with the phrase, "part of the job."
Not everyone is cut out to be a firefighter. And many, including myself, who feel the calling in their soul, aren't necessarily in the best shape of their lives. However, both personal exercise and department training can deal with that problem. Our fire academies and training programs teach us a great deal with the numerous topics and tactics we have to learn; especially when and how to use them. Yet, we must concede that no matter the training and the experience of each firefighter, officer and chief, there is still an unknown factor.
This past week, we have seen, at two different fire departments, a collapse of the second floor of a residential structure which, at this time, resulted in the death of three firefighters and serious injuries to four others. And even though we are trained to watch for "soft spots" or "spongy floors," events still occur over which we do not have control.
However, I believe that it is time for a change in our mindset towards LODD's. As we begin the third decade of the 21st century, we can no longer afford to brush aside a LODD as "part of the job." Rather, be must review every aspect of the call, every agency report, each firefighter's recollections of the incident e.g., where they were, what they saw, what they experienced, etc. Let us do everything we can to learn the how and why of an LODD, as well as what we can do in our effort to prevent this from happening again, if possible.
May their love for and dedication to, their families and community be an inspiration to all who loved and knew them.
May their souls be bound up in the Bond of Life.
May their memories always be for a blessing and may the Rest in Peace.