2017-10-12 / Editorial

Replenish the ranks

As we mark Fire Prevention Week again this year, we are reminded of the importance of taking steps to prevent fires as well as those that respond to fires.

As wildfires destroy hundreds of homes in California, we are left thinking about fires that impact our community. We’ve had severe wildfires that have burned thousands of acres (but not hundreds of structures) and we deal with house fires on a regular basis, but we have never had to deal with the magnitude of loss with which those in California are dealing.

Annually, the Resorter runs a salute to area firefighters, highlighting the departments that regularly train and always respond to us when we are in need. In preparation for the section, the Resorter’s Cheryl Holladay wrote an article intended to be used on the front page of the Fire Salute section, “Fire departments face need for new recruits.” Instead, that story ran on the front page of this week’s Resorter. Why? Because of the importance of its message.

While we often beat around the bush when trying to recruit new members to service organizations, clubs and events, there is nothing subtle about the need for firefighters.

“Getting right to the point, some of us are getting up there in years, and many of the rosters in departments all over are getting a little thin,” Markey Township Firefighter Ken Elmore said.

Elmore, who contributes the column “Fire Safety Forum” to the Resorter, is a retired career firefighter who now serves with Markey Township. He acknowledged the “hectic pace of life” can sometimes hinder recruitment, but says firefighters are no different than anyone else. Like the rest of us, Elmore said firefighters have jobs, homes, families and bills to pay.

“We’re no different other than at some point we were motivated by some situation to take that one extra step and to see if we could be of some assistance,” he told the Resorter.

Elmore says becoming a firefighter is rewarding in many ways.

“The richness grows inside of you,” he told the Resorter for the story. “There is a feeling of pride that you start with as you become a member of a group of folks just like you, willing to help your fellow man. There is an indescribable sense of excitement that grips you as you respond to your first calls for help. What is it? Where are we going? What will we find? You develop a sense of compassion when you realize that all that lies between disaster and that person with terror or agony in their eyes is you and your comrades…The wealth and riches you gain by helping your neighbor cannot be held by any bank, but rather are kept safe in your heart and mind forever.”

Looking over the rosters of area fire departments we recognize many names and thank them for their service. We also know that many of those names have been on the rosters for many years. We don’t need to replace our veteran firefighters, we need to add to their ranks so they can share their knowledge and sense of service to new generations of firefighters.

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