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DEATH OF A FIREFIGHTER, a short story.

As I walked through the door at the station for the final time in my life, I realized my days as a Firefighter have come to an end. An end no firefighter should ever have to sacum to. Not from injury, disease, or even failure, but politics. As I slowly cleaned out my locker and dismantled my gear, memories of what my life as a firefighter were poured through my brain, bringing tears to my eyes as emotions swelled in my throat. Could this truly be happening? Thirty-five years, over, done, taken away in a matter of minutes, because I believed! Believed that when I became a firefighter it was important to become the best firefighter I could, for my sake as well as all around me. Brother firefighters, the public, and even the pets, it didn’t matter! I was going to train and educate myself to help others! I was proud the day I received my badge back in 73, my parents and grand parents watching with smiles of pride, ”hey that’s my son, my grand son” that I took on a job most people think your crazy for doing. I remember that first ride on the rear step, hanging on for dear life as we zig zaged around traffic to my first fire, a brush fire in the cat tails near the inlet, it was the ride that set my life in motion. It gave me a direction that others did not find yet. While the years moved on I became a driver, WOW! I was now responsible to get everyone to the calls and make sure they got home. Then I met my wife, she thought I was nuts for volunteering but she saw how much I loved it. It took up much of my time and she realized it was going to be a part of her life just as much. I continued to train whenever I could, took officers school, some collage and worked hard to stay up with the fire service. We went on to have kids, my son Justin and daughter Nicole; Hell I was living the American Dream, A firefighter, married, two kids and a dog and was able to pay my bills, all right! Over the years I earned the ranks of LT., Capt., Deputy Chief, and back to Capt. I received numerous awards for dedicated service, life saving, (worked that one with my son) and firemen of the year. But the best award was when my son joined the JR Firefighter Program I started, following DADS footsteps, a family tradition started,” talk about PRIDE”. He moved to the rank of firefighter and at his graduation, my wife and I now became what my mom and dad were, parents with smiles of pride, “Yea, that’s our son”. Our Lockers were next to each other in the station that kept us close. He went on to get his BS in Fire Investigation and a minor in Criminal Justice and now pursues a carrier in the fire service. We went on to become EMTs and spent countless hours working together at fires and EMS calls. The guys at the station, my son Justin “The Fly”, Rich “Captain Canary”, Joe “Hi-way “, Charlie “Clint”, Brian “Speedy”, Austin, “Beamer”, Joe “Rambo”, Shawn “I’m Back”, and can’t forget about our sister company from Union Beach, 65-3-78 ”Best Of The Beach”, so so many memories, far to many to write about but will always be held close to my heart. I continued to pack my things wiping away the tears trying to compose myself incase one of the guys came in. It reminded me when I had to pack all the things from my mom and dads house after they passed away, same process, different memories. Looking around at the many things I was a part of in the gear room and were slowly fading away as I got closer to finishing packing, I realized politics, and believing in change had taken it all away! My belief in doing my job as I was asked according to policy and ethics and upholding the standards that we all deserve to go home at the end of each and every call has ultimately taken my life! My life as a firefighter! Voted Out because of doing my job! Small town fire department politics took everything away leaving nothing but memories! As I placed my bailout rope, the last thing to pack in my bag, with tears in my eyes again, I walked toward the station door and looked back for one last time to see my empty locker next to my sons knowing we will never ride together again. As the door closed, and our lockers disappeared, my life as a firefighter came to an end, holding only the memories of what was and the thoughts of what will never be.

My true life experience, My death as a Firefighter
By Dennis E Sampson
Matawan NJ


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I am very sorry to here what took place.I believe they lost a talented and a very didicated firefighter.What happened affects us all.To the towns we serve as fast teams and to the public you served in your town.I believe you will be back.Stay safe and see you soon.
Thanks for your years of service, and for doing it right.
You di good. Especially with your son serving.

Maybe things will change and you can serve again in some form.

Take care. Enjoy life. Don't be a stranger to the FE community!
Sir ,am sorry to hear about that,But you have left behind ,what other ones have learned from you,.
I look up to my peers who have been in the fire service much longer than I.And I learn to listen,from those who have
all the experience...continue to learn,to fight fires,and do the best I can..
I wish you luck ,sir. and for you son to stay safe. May God Bless ,You the Fire Fighter

We ALWAYS are firefighters, regardless of riding status. In small town volunteer or large career metro department, dedicated and high profile members occasionally find themselves locked out of the fire station because of their belief or work habits.

It cuts deep, especially with the time, emotion and family investment you have made since 1973. It is like a death in the family or a very messy divorce.

Your relationship with one organization is over, but you are still a firefighter. At some point the grief process will be complete. I am sure other departments will find value in your training and experience ... or you can find another way to be true to your firemantic principles.

Hey Capt, Those memories dont have to come to an end. There are plenty of departments that would appreciate and accept someone with your knowledge and talent. I just so happen to belong to one of them. What went on is unheard of and just down right wrong. Chris hit it on the head when he said everyone you served will be affected. The sad thing is the ones who decided your fate didnt look at it like that. You are the perfect example of what this job is about. Not only do you better yourself but you stride to make everyone else you work with better as well. Some people in the departments we serve feel threatened by aggressive, well trained, and opionated firefighters. Why that is I will never know. You would think that people who are not sure of themselves would want to be surrounded by people like you. Instead you become a target and your known as someone who takes this to seriously, or he acts like this is the FDNY and the comments come like were just volunteers or god we dont even get paid for this and my favorite "this is Union Beach not the Bronx". Why, I ask anyone why is this like this? Why was a leader a "PIONEER" of the volunteer fire service snuffed out? The true #1 killer of the volunteer fire service POLITICS!!!!!!
I agree with evryone here. It is bad that Politics do play a roll in the Volunteer and heck the paid departments. We all live through the politics as hard as it may be. Trust me when I tell you this. I seen a transformation of the Traditional to Politics out of my 24 years of service.
I truly do believe though your giving up to easy and you shouldn't let the bastards win!
From all the things you have done throughout the fire community in helping others out in their time of need regardless if it was a citzen or a fellow first responder, Can not go overlooked. You owe them NOTHING.
The way I see it is they (your DEPT) OWE YOU!
You don't need to give up what you believe in and what others believe in with you.
The concept is simple, most act out of fear because of their own faults, flaws, Fear of learning what is new, and Jealousy.
As Ron said we'd be glad to have someone like you. I'm sure other Departments would appreciate a great qualitied qualified Firefighter and person as you are.
Me I say don't let the BASTARD'S WIN. Don't let them get you down and out.
We come from a background of only a few that can be Volunteer Firefighters with the pride, devotion, time away from family, and friends with the hours of mandated training and nonmandated training to benefit ourselves and better ourselves to learn all new things that are thrown at the Fire service every day. Ron threw in some of the comments that people do say and its true they do say this, I've heard all of them. But just remember we are the ones running in as the others are running out.
Don't give up and stay strong, You have alot of us backing and supporting you.
Hey Capt,
i am so sorry to find out took place. POLITICS are great.....ron is right the #1 killer of the volunteer fire service POLITICS!
Hey Capt Do'nt give up. I know the feeling. Politics does kill. Politics killed my dream of being on the FDNY back in the 80's.I'm the son of a retired FDNYfirefighter.(I was suposed to get my dads badge).I never let that dream go away. The dream became a reality 20 years later when I walked in the front doors of 65-3.(The Best of The Beach).Don't let them(politics)win. Take Care

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