Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Opinion

February 13, 2014

High above it all

Inside on TV news, talking heads described ravages of California wildfires raging across the landscape. Outside, my neighbor Josh was ready to climb into his pick-up, heading for his firefighting shift 40 minutes up the freeway.

Fresh from hearing descriptions of modern firefighting technology, I asked him to explain so ordinary guys like me could understand.

“Doc, you’d do well to keep it simple,” Josh answered, smiling. “Firefighters just spray the wet stuff on the red stuff.”

As he drove away, I gave myself a mental kick for missing the opportunity to thank him for his ongoing commitment to saving lives and property. Each shift, he’s ready to uphold the pledge he made when signing on.

And the same goes for other emergency responders — men and women, professionals and volunteers — across the land.

They deserve to be on pedestals, none of which are tall enough, broad enough or sturdy enough to hold them all. Maybe they could mount the elevated plateaus in shifts.

He’s a humanitarian and a great neighbor, eager to help with chores that call for more strength and endurance than we of a certain age can muster. His smile, gentle nature and acts of kindness make us know that he’s a “giver,” not a taker.

I asked him about life at the station. Are firefighters really good cooks? Are jokes shared around the station? Does it seem like family? He answered “yes” to all three.

Josh joked that he knows of no other job where they “wake you up to go home.” He asked if I know why God made firefighters: “Because the police need heroes, too.” (Law enforcement personnel may remember that this question can be re-phrased with the names reversed.)

Another firefighter — a “friend of a friend” we’ll call Dan — continues his “sunny side up” approach to life, despite having lost a leg in a freak accident at the station a dozen years ago.

He remains an incurable optimist and continues on the job with a strong commitment to exercise. Within months of his accident, he put his prosthesis to the test, entering and completing the Turkey Trot and the Jingle Bell events in Dallas, both 5K races.

Regularly mounting his bicycle in Van Alstyne, his hometown, he often takes 25-mile rides.

Sometimes a pack of three or four dogs gives chase. One day, a large three-legged boxer set the canine pace, getting way too close to Dan on his “real leg” side. He gave the dog a “can-we-talk look” as he pedaled faster.

Some unlikely conversations occur while the embers are still glowing.

A Dallas homeowner whose domicile was saved by the Dallas Fire Department during the wee hours of a cold winter morning was asked his insurance agent’s name. “Swift Sparks,” he responded.

Smiling, the captain said, “We have enough attempts at humor down at the firehouse. Now give me his real name. (He repeated, “Swift Sparks.”)

More than six decades ago, an ultra-conservative newspaper ran an editorial that was critical of public fire protection. The editor was strongly opposed it, feeling that such protection should be offered only to individuals and businesses signing up for it and “paying the freight” if they wanted fire protection.

A few days later, flames engulfed the newspaper offices. Thanks to the fire department, much of the building was salvaged.

In the next edition of the paper, the editor profusely thanked the firefighters in a front-page letter. The final sentence, however, read thusly: “However, we still don’t believe in public fire protection.”

The masses endorse public fire protection. Aren’t we glad that firefighters, and other emergency responders, feel strong commitment to what they are called to do? They prove regularly that they’re “all in” to go “all out” when duty calls.

Sure, during quiet hours, when all is in order and alarms are silent, they share stories, laughing when they can and crying when they must.

When Josh reads this, I’ll be pleased for him to render his opinion, unless he wants me to tone it down a little bit. But I won’t. And when he finishes reading, I hope he’ll take a few minutes to take a look at our squeaking garage door.

      —————

Dr. Don Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. He may be reached by email at newbury@speakerdoc.com. His website is www.speakerdoc.com. Follow him on Twitter: @donnewbury.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Deanna Kirk The times, they are a-changin

    A gentleman called our office early in the week, more than a bit upset.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dr Don Newbury 2014.jpg Flipping out over flip-tops

    Somewhere between the admonition to avoid looks at gift horse’s mouths and the dangers of Greeks bearing gifts should be warnings about acceptance of gifts from offspring.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dick Platt 2014.jpg ‘Spilling doze count’

    My subject is borrowed from a local contributor to the Sarasota Herald Tribune named Bob Parkinson.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Deanna Kirk Water Park woes

    I’ve come to the realization that vacations are not a luxury, they’re a necessity.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dr Don Newbury 2014.jpg Old, new, borrowed, blue

       Dissection of notes found in the pocket of an old suit isn’t easy. Maybe they were scrawled during the lull in a wedding ceremony, or to jog my memory of a joke for later use.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dick Platt 2014.jpg Spam french fries

    I saw a relatively disturbing video and article on Yahoo which touted making Spam French fires to go alongside your big old ground chuck burger. I just can’t imagine a basket full of these deep-fried cholesterol-loaded sticks, but there they were, bigger than Texas.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Janet Jacobs Dumb and dumber in the blotter

    When it comes to dumb criminals, nothing beats the would-be gang of car burglars who tried to break into a car in Tampa, Florida, this past week.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Belcher, Bob.jpg ‘Change’ — old "buzz word" shows up in our town

    If you pay much attention when you’re driving around town lately (and I really hope that you do — pay attention, that is) you can’t help but admit we’ve seen some “change” as of late. And, contrary to the political connotations that word will forever carry with it now, that “change” we’re seeing is good.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Tinsley Germany present and past

    Last Sunday evening my wife and I stood on the balcony of our apartment in Nuremberg and watched as fireworks lit up the sky.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dr Don Newbury 2014.jpg Where strawberries are king

    In 1949, when Stilwell, Oklahoma’s “Strawberry Festival” was just one year old, crooners were applauded when they cut loose with Dear Hearts and Gentle People.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
Featured Ads
Twitter Updates