Too late to stop, too early to quit.
What does that mean?
To me it means I have been doing this job to long to stop. It has become a part of who I am. It is more than just something I do. It is a part of me the same as my right hand; I can’t imagine life without it. For the years I was blessed enough to make a living doing this job I was the happiest I have ever been with my work. The mill was not perfect at all (Just read my blog from the beginning!!!) but I got to get up in the morning and got to go to work doing what I love.
I am (I hope!) at about the midway point of my time in the fire service. If the good Lord sees fit to allow me to live long enough to put in another 20 years I will be thankful to say the least. I am not ready to quit by any means. I can’t imagine life without the fire service at this point. I don't even want to think about retiring!
I started when I was 18, just a few months out of high school. Two of my Uncles and several of my older cousins had been firemen, one of them on the department I started with. Uncle Lou gave me my earliest memory of the fire service when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. I was at his house playing with my cousin when he came home from a big fire. He walked in the door with his rubber coat draped over one arm, his black helmet titled back on his head as far as it could go. He walked in and kissed my Aunt them took off his helmet and placed it on the table in front of me. When his hand came away from the helmet it smudged off the soot, revealing the white color of the helmet. My Uncle was the Chief. He served the people of our township from 1955 until his death in 1987. Oddly enough my cousin never followed his Father into the fire service. I guess he just doesn't have it. The “It” that makes a man (or woman) put service above self.
I didn't realize I wanted to be a firefighter until July of 1992. I had graduated high school in May and was just kind of floating, no real direction. Doing nothing.
I was at a teen dance at the local Grange about a quarter of a mile south of the grain elevator in town. The dance was well under way when flashing blue lights illuminated the room from out side and the roar of motors at full throttle permeated the walls. (The fire station was located almost across the street from the elevator.) A number of us ran to the windows and peered out at the scene. The firefighter’s vehicles racing up the road to the fire station and the grain elevator truly FULLY involved. It was a sight the likes of which I have never seen since. The sheer volume of fire was incredible.
I watched as fire engines and tankers and ladder trucks from all over the county tore by going to the fire. It was what we refer to jokingly as a "Ya'll come" fire.
The first Monday night of August 1992 I stood up at the monthly business meeting of the fire department and joined.
So here I am, almost 19 years later.
Too far into the job to stop, and too much time left to quit!