The community caretakers

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By Jenny Arnold

It is amazing how far our fire service has come since, say, the 1950s.

The story Rich Hill firefighters told me about cutting holes into a house and filling it with water to put a fire out still brings a smile to my face.

Now, firefighters learn the science of fire in their intensive courses they must take in order to go inside a building and battle the flames.

But what really gets me about these men, and women, is their care and concern they have for their communities.

As I interviewed the Rich Hill firefighters, who protect the community I live in, I felt like I was speaking to the fathers, the caretakers, of the community. I felt like if I ever needed help at my home in Rich Hill, they would be there to help, to do whatever they could to save me, my pets and my property. It makes me feel safe.

In Bell Town, I interviewed longtime firefighters, black and white. I realized that the firefighters seem to know everyone by name in their communities, as if they’ve mapped out everyone’s houses in their minds, just in case they have to respond to an emergency there.

We heard it over and over again as we interviewed these humble volunteers – we just want to help people, to give back.

It’s about guts, for sure, to rush into a burning home, but these firefighters definitely don’t do it for the glory.