LETTERS: County firefighters need your support

It’s that season again when it’s hot and dry and we are faced with the potential for large grass fires.

In 2000, firefighters in Kansas answered more than 150,000 incident calls-these were the ones reported to the state fire marshal’s office. This was done with an estimated 16,000 volunteer and paid firefighters.

Many of these calls were great challenges for firefighters. Firefighters train physically, mentally and emotionally to be able to answer these calls. They willingly put their lives at risk to save lives of others, their homes and natural resources.

The general public does not realize what a firefighter goes through to do their job. Both volunteer and paid firefighters have many of the same concerns,

City councils, county commissions, township boards and fire boards need to become more educated about what firefighters really do. They need to educate themselves on how much training and time it takes to be a firefighter. A firefighter’s job is more than just shooting a little water or being able to push a computer key. A firefighter cannot have too much training.

These government agencies need to realize that people are more important than things. They need to realize that fire departments are a public service to the community, not a business. They don’t generate their own income.

Who gets called first to an emergency? Fire, EMS and law enforcement. Whose budget gets cut first by these government agencies? Emergency personnel.

Firefighters are a family. None of them are independent or self-sufficient. They need the help of other firefighters. As they work together, they grow in respect and trust of each other.

The general public and government agencies need to understand what a great challenge firefighters have. They face the challenge of working together (people have different temperaments), communication breakdowns, dealing with injuries and the loss of life, disasters, floods, tornadoes, car wrecks, fires and more.

Summer and fall 2000 was a dry period with large fires. So many hours were spent fighting these fires that some volunteers almost lost their jobs because they were gone so much.

The tragedy of fire takes its toll on firefighters no matter how much training they have had-whether you’re first on the scene or you respond later. Everyone who works in emergency services-firefighters, EMS and law enforcement and dispatchers-never know what the next 911 call will mean, how it will effect their job as well as their personnel life.

Firefighters’ challenges are greater today than at any other time. Firefighters, EMS, law enforcement and dispatchers are 911 heroes and are expected to produce miracles.

Since this is budget-setting time, I would like to challenge all city councils, county commissions, township boards and fire boards to educate themselves about emergency services. Many don’t want to take the time to learn about all the mandated requirements. As one elected person told me, “I’m afraid of what I might learn.”

Support your emergency personnel. You never know when you might need their services.

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