Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 17

Today I am thankful for a very large group of people: firefighters, particularly volunteer firefighters. I grew up in a small town where the only paid staffer in the fire department was the fire chief. A number of our neighbors were volunteer firefighters, and since the firehouse was only a block away, I remember several occasions when I was waiting at the bus stop when the alarm bell rang, and my friends and I were delighted to watch all the volunteers come running out of their homes toward the firehouse in response to the call, some still buttoning a shirt or untying a necktie as they ran, and then to see the trucks come racing out of the garage, lights flashing and sirens blaring.

It was much less delightful the one night that the call they were responding to was a house up the street. It wasn’t one of the more common calls that turned out to be a small grease fire in a kitchen, or burning leaves in a backyard that got out of control, or a minor car accident, or a clogged chimney flue making smoke back up into the house. It was an actual house fire, and it was a quick-moving fire in an old house that went up very quickly. I recall the neighbors standing around in horror as the owners stood with tears in their eyes, hugging their two small children tightly, watching the firefighters desperately trying to staunch the flames. The house was saved, but much of the contents were lost and it took many months to repair and rebuild. But the damage would have been much worse had the firefighters not responded so quickly.

It reminded me that firefighters, even in a small town where house fires are infrequent, are always willing and ready to put their lives on the line for their neighbors. Each time they don their protective gear and hop on that truck, they don’t know whether the scene they are heading for is a minor incident or a life-threatening one. They keep their skills continually honed for that rare occasion when they are called upon to know exactly how to prevent disaster, whether it’s administering CPR, knocking down a wall to access an electrical fire, or figuring out the safest way to put out a chemical fire. And in my experience, they always do it with a smile and a handshake, appreciating but not expecting thanks from those they help.

I am thankful for these angels on earth who protect their neighbors’ homes and lives.

(My stepdaughter in her gear as a volunteer with the Waltham Auxiliary Fire Department)

Three things I am thankful for today are: the sandbox in my backyard; the wealth of online recipe sites I can call upon to help me make delicious, healthy, and creative dinners for my family; and the joyful sound of Christmas music (yes, even before Thanksgiving).

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