Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another Year Comes and Goes

I recall a senior firefighter once telling me that his 30+ years on the job went by in a flash. One minute he was a young rookie, and the next he was attending his retirement party, wondering where the time went.

That's the way it is for people who enjoy what they do. Whether firefighters are paid or volunteer, the vast majority love their work with a passion that transcends the job itself. Firefighting isn't just what they do; it's who they are.

I watch young firefighters (anymore, they're all young to me!) at the inception of their (hopefully) long careers, and I wonder if they, too, will have the sensation that their careers have flown by when they retire. Yes, there will be ups and downs, and those occasional times when the clock seems to run in reverse. But overall, will the years pass before they even know time is racing by?

The only way to know is to keep flipping the calendar pages and see what happens.

Have a happy, productive, and prosperous 2015.

(Photo by R. Widmar © 2014)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Life Goes On

Not to sound like a Grinch, but here’s what I learned about firefighting and the holidays: Fire doesn’t care what the calendar says. Nor does the Grim Reaper. Life (and death) goes on.

The problem is that all the tinsel and glitz of this time of year only exacerbates feelings of sadness and loss when something bad happens. House fires. Car wrecks. Deaths. These things happen every day, but they all seem so much worse when they happen during the holidays.

That’s probably why many firefighters I know tend to head the other direction. They collect toys for children in need, visit sick kids at the hospital, “adopt” less fortunate families, decorate apparatus and stations, drive Santa around town on the fire engine, and bring their families to the firehouse for Christmas dinner. These are the bright spots, the sanity keepers in what can often be a chaotic and emotional season.

Perhaps I’m a little biased, but firefighters as a whole are good people, and they do good things on duty and off. Happy holidays to all of them, and to the law enforcement, EMS personnel, and military who spend the holidays away from their families so that we can enjoy the time with ours.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Aerial Firefighting…Sort Of

According to a July 31, 2012 Business Insider article by Jennifer Welsh, French artists at the turn of the 20th century created images of what they thought life would be like in the year 2000. One of these images depicts firefighters tackling a blaze and making a rescue from the air, courtesy of personal wing packs.

While it’s true that every year brings new developments in firefighting equipment and technology, the fire service hasn’t yet advanced to these grandiose heights. However, there are some really magnificent firefighting aircraft used in battling large wildfires. My personal favorite: the DC-10s refurbished and provided by the 10 Tanker Air Carrier Corporation ( I highly recommend checking out the videos posted on the 10 Tanker website if you've got a few minutes of free time.

(Photo from