- Put out fires in houses, apartment buildings, office buildings, warehouses, barns, cars, cargo trucks, fields, forests, trash heaps, haystacks, railroad coal cars, and more.
- Trained on everything from basic firefighting skills to advanced rescue and EMS techniques.
- Helped people experiencing acute or chronic medical emergencies, including chest pain, difficulty breathing, diabetic problems, and traumatic injuries.
- Responded to people with minor medical issues because: they were genuinely concerned but didn’t know who else to call; they couldn’t afford an urgent care or ER visit; they could afford medical care but wanted free medical advice instead (yes, that happens); or they didn’t want to pay $30 for a taxi or Uber when Medicare or Medicaid would pick up the tab for a $1,600 ambulance ride (yes, that also actually happens).
- Sent apparatus and personnel to assist with major incidents (usually fires) in neighboring jurisdictions – or sometimes clear across the country.
- Responded to calls involving suicidal ideations, suicide attempts, or suicides involving people ranging in age from elementary school kids to older adults. (These types of calls are on the rise.)
- Showed visitors the fire station and apparatus, and smiled at the excitement on kids’ faces when they saw the fire engine or ladder truck up close.
- Extricated or disentangled people from nasty wrecks, farm machinery, and industrial equipment.
- Taught CPR and first aid to citizens. (Suggestion: Make CPR training one of your 2018 goals.)
- Performed CPR and other life-saving measures on people of all ages, including children, and provided comfort to distraught family members in the aftermath.
- Performed fire safety inspections at businesses and schools.
- Fought wildfires and rescued people from natural disasters, some doing so even as their own homes were being destroyed by the same fires and disasters.
- Read books to children at schools and libraries.
- Rescued animals that got themselves in tough spots, ranging from ducklings in storm drains to livestock stuck in well pits or mud bogs.
- Gave directions to people who needed help finding an address.
- Conducted fire patrols on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, the two biggest dates for fireworks, and stood by at fireworks displays for sporting and special events.
- Cooked some amazing meals for their crews – and also had some equally amazing kitchen catastrophes.
- Counseled juvenile firesetters on the dangers of their actions.
- Assessed minor injuries or mental health issues for people in law enforcement custody.
- Investigated reports of smoke or fire called in by passersby who saw something (or thought they saw something) that turned out to be heavy equipment spewing diesel smoke, a barbecue loaded with extra hickory chips, or a legal fire pit.
- Investigated reports of smoke or fire called in by a passerby that did, indeed, turn out to be a fire that needed to be extinguished.
- Quietly grieved the patients or fire victims they couldn’t save, or fellow firefighters who died in the line of duty, even if those firefighters were total strangers.
- Promoted safety messages regarding the importance of maintaining fire and carbon monoxide alarms, completely extinguishing fireplace ashes and cigarettes before discarding them, and not driving while distracted, drunk, or high.
- Helped people figure out – quite often between the hours of midnight and five a.m. – that the fire and/or carbon monoxide alarms that had been chirping for hours needed fresh batteries or were outdated and needed to be replaced.
- Extinguished fires caused by improperly discarded fireplace ashes or cigarettes.
- Provided emergency medical attention to people in nasty wrecks caused by other people who were drunk, high, or too absorbed in looking at their phones to pay attention to driving.
(See any connection between those last four items?)
And today in Colorado, as has sadly happened too many times in recent years, firefighters were among the many first responders and citizens who lined roads and highways for a procession to honor a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty. Despite the historic rivalry between cops and firefighters, they are on the same side protecting their communities.
For firefighters, every day is different, often challenging, and filled with highs and lows. But they wouldn't have it any other way.
May you enjoy a safe, happy, and prosperous 2018.