Thursday, 18 July 2013 00:00
Fire. When it is contained in a fireplace, it is a thing of beauty, comfort and warmth. Fire. Rampaging through a home, a landscape, it is a thing of terror, loss and heartache.
The story of the 19 young firefighters, the Granite Mountain Hotshots who, surrounded by blazing conditions with no way out, hunkered down into little heat reflecting tents, was heartbreaking to contemplate.
The people who risk their lives to stand between us and the destructiveness of fire are a special group, forged together by training, unique experiences and a love for jumping in to help others.
We take a moment of reflection to thank all of the firefighters who volunteer to protect our community, our homes, our lives from fire. We thank the individuals who make up the Vigilants, the Alerts and Manhasset-Lakeville fire companies.
We asked Chief Lawrence Jacobs of the Vigilants if there is a firefighter appreciation month. In typical fashion, the fire companies do not ask for thanks, but there is a fire prevention month and program in place when the companies send local newspapers articles about prevention and visit schools to teach children what to do in case of fire.
Although Long Island does not have to brace for as many wildfires as the areas in the southwest, wildfires are not unknown here. The Pine Barrens fire of 1995 required the efforts of fire companies from all over Long Island to finally stamp it out.
In 1999, there was a smoldering fire in the swampy areas bordering Great Neck Estates that was also a serious wildfire.
Rainfall so far this summer has been substantial, but extremely dry conditions in the fall could make us susceptible to wildfires. So while, our firefighters concentrate on structural fire fighting, they too, are trained and versatile enough to combat other types of fires, a scary list including combustible liquids, electrical, combustible metals and wildfires.
What can we do as citizens to help our firefighters and first responders do their jobs?
Chief Jacobs said, “Pull over and yield the right of way when you hear a siren. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t do that. Also, if you can avoid an accident scene, do that ... and if you can’t, at least slow down.”
Be sure to know which fire company covers your home and plug their direct numbers into cell phones. A direct call will help the response time.
So, perhaps it is fitting that there is not one designated fire fighter appreciation month, it should be a year round state of mind. Never take them for granted.