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
STAY SAFE !!