A romance for firefighting begins in each one of us, just as unique as those involved. Our stories are diverse, similar, extraordinary or maybe just ours. My love affair with this calling, the Fire Service, is not special or enthralling, it is just mine.
Sunday is Fathers Day. Some will mark the occasion possibly by serving breakfast in bed or a family cookout. My life has not led me down the path of parenthood in the traditional sense; our puppies are my "kids", so Fathers Day is strictly about my dad. If yours is like most, they have everything they need. The best gift you can give - is love and appreciation. These words are my way of showing my dad how much he means to me.
In 1979, a young man entered the Fire Service. His father-in-law was a Captain on the local Volunteer Fire Department. As with most young, new Firefighters (at the time Firemen), he found the exhilaration of running to emergencies and the feeling of community pride when the job was done. At this same time, the newly married man had a six-month-old son at home. The family began and embraced what would be many years of Fire Service dedication. Growing up around the Fire Station was just what I did. Playing on the backstep and pretending to drive is what any kid in my shoes would do. When the company came to school for Fire Prevention I did not get excited, I had seen it all before. When the other kids were afraid to participate in the drills they were teaching us, I would not flinch to show how it easy it was. For me it was an everyday situation. Proudly I would say to the children around me, "that's my dad and that's my grandpa."
As years passed the child became a teen and the awkward stage of youth took control. We had our differences and life could be both complicated and bitter. Yet time past, life as a young man and his father started to take shape. The event that led to my becoming of a Firefighter is simple and common; I saw in person what my dad did. Seeing this small event occur and the feelings of pride took hold. Within 7 days I started my journey, my romance with firefighting began. My dad was in the Front Seat the first time I drove the engine. My dad was my partner the first time I entered a working fire. My dad was the first to let me lead a training. No matter how much more I learn, my dad will always be my mentor.
Here we are, years later. My dad is now the Chief of the department that he has nobly served for 33 years. His father-in-law, my Grandpa still serves as his Assistant Chief, with nearly 50 years of service. While I, with less then 10, have only grown fonder of this great profession with every passing day.
Dad - thank you for always allowing me to follow my dreams yet keeping me grounded. Without your support, I would have never found my passion, my calling and my life's work. On this Fathers Day 2012, I hope you read this and know how much you are appreciated and loved. We are Fathers, we are sons, we are Firefighters.