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Independence Day and the Fire Service

Independence Day known as the Fourth of July commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 freeing our county from the “kingdom of Great Britain.” We celebrate this day with fireworks (dearly loved by our firefighters), picnics, family time and other celebratory activities in our communities.

We have to remember that Independence Day was hard fought and won by our forefathers as there was much blood spilled on the battlefield in the pursuit of these freedoms we now enjoy.

America has always stepped up to the plate not only to protect our freedoms but freedoms of those citizens in oppressed countries run by despots, dictators or others with an ill will towards the freedoms we enjoy. We continually spill the blood of our young men and women’s on the battlefields in strange faraway places with names that are unpronounceable and soon to be forgotten.

We have to remember that our democracy does not travel well especially to those countries that have been fighting a tribal or civil wars for several centuries. Yet we always respond to the call to duty. We are proud to say, many of those former service men and women are now our firefighters in our communities

We are now facing a new threat to our security with the recent events in Iraq and Syria and the Fire Service will be counted among those first responders when there is an attack on our soil from either foreign or domestic terrorists. We need to work closely with our police brothers and sisters in blue to mitigate the damage, reduce the loss of life and understand that you are “soldiers on America’s front lines” against these threats. We need to train hard at not only fire suppression, fire prevention and EMS but our new tasks are to be prepared for the worst event in your lives. Look at last year’s bombing in Boston. Did they expect that to happen? I would assume so, as every event with a mass gathering of our citizens, the event and emergency planners expect the “worst to happen.”

When the “expected event” actually did occur, we saw bystanders run TOWARD the event to assist the wounded along with Fire, EMS, Police and other first responders to reduce the loss of life. Did they think about their own personal safety? Was there a second bomb close by to kill and injure those first responders? That did not appear to be a great concern of the first responders but it should be as we have seen secondary explosions in other countries. We expect to see other acts of terrorism in these types of events in the future, in our schools, shopping malls and other areas of assembly and soft targets of opportunity.  Faced with these certainties, the Boy Scout Motto of “Be Prepared” certainly applies to our profession.

Blood has been spilled in the defense of our freedoms and more will be spilled protecting America. As the greatest nation, we will rise to the challenge, each and every time and along with the members of the Fire Service we will rise to those challenges as well and we will be prepared for the next event in the Homeland.

It makes me proud to have been a part of the greatest job on earth as a firefighter. Happy Fourth of July to my brothers and sister firefighters and please be safe and be prepared.

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