My heroes do not wear a sports jersey with their name and number on it. My heroes wear bunker gear with an SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) pack on their back and a mask over their face and a helmet to protect their head. They wear big, heavy boots and thick gloves to protect their hands. Their pockets contain tools to snip wires or break automobile glass or any of dozens of other hazard they may encounter.
My heroes drive big red chariots emblazoned with lights and decals. Some are in Mobile Intensive Care Units (MICU) with medicines and tools so they can bring a miniature emergency room to you and stabilize you when your heart stops or your body is traumatized in a mangled automobile crash. Others are on bikes so they can navigate through a crown lining a street at a parade or a large public gathering.
My heroes do not always get a full eight hours sleep like most of us strive for. They are often roused from their sleep because you and I may have a medical emergency or a car accident in the middle of the night. Sometimes it is because fire lights up the night sky.
My heroes are like those that have gone to fight battles on foreign soil. They have seen things that would turn most of our stomachs. Yet, many times they choose not to talk about it to others.
You see my heroes at their fire stations washing their trucks and engines and MICU’s in the morning, sometimes raising the ladder on the piece of equipment just to make sure when called upon, all is in working order. Other times, in the spring, they can be seen standing in the middle of a busy intersection with a boot in hand collecting money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. They collect school supplies for the children of the community and at Christmas time they deliver toys and food so a child will not wake up Christmas morning and think Santa forgot about them or that they have been naughty and therefore, Santa skipped their house.
My heroes do these things and hundreds more. My heroes are firemen. This past weekend the danger of what they do was brought home when an eighteen wheeler struck a piece of equipment blocking an accident scene on the highway in the middle of the night. All three injured have been released from the hospital and will soon be back at their firehouse. God’s hedge of protection was not only on them, but the other first responders that could have been in the path of the truck.
We do not know why or how the driver of the truck did not slow down, but it was a sobering reminder that it is not just when they run into a burning building that they are in danger.
Texas, along with other states, have enacted laws to slow down to twenty miles below the posted speed limit and to also move over one lane when passing an emergency vehicle with it’s lights flashing. We talked a lot about, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown,” with the recent spring rains. Maybe we need to remind motorist to slow down and move over when there is a stopped emergency vehicle on the roadway.
My heroes with the Irving Fire Department are not just firefighters and paramedics. They are somebody’s husband, father, brother, son, etc. They are active in our community and they are servants in our city. Let’s do all we can do when we see them stopped on the side of the road. Slow down, and move over. Let’s make sure they all go home to see their family at the end of their shift.
– Tim Fooks
Tim Fooks is a life-long Irving resident. He has lived in Irving over 51 years and attended school in the Irving ISD. He is also a community volunteer, giving his time to the Office of Emergency Management as a storm spotter, and is also a member of the Irving Citizens Fire Academy Alumni Association.