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The human line snaked around the back of the County Council chambers on Tuesday night. One representative from each of the 19 fire departments in Lancaster County stood quietly. Most were fire chiefs and dressed in their best dressed uniforms.
They were there to get some well-deserved recognition. Lancaster County Council Chairman Rudy Charter presented a special plaque and proclamation to each member citing their vital contribution to the safety and protection of county residents.
Carter, who referred to the group as wall-to-wall firefighters, thanked them all and touted the benefits of being a firefighter.
“We know all about the extra benefits you get, including getting up at 3 in the morning when it’s 20 degrees outside and fighting fires,” he said.
Everyone laughed at the facetious remark. The irony is that’s quite true. The Lancaster News introduced you to the firefighters and shared their stories and origins of the the fire departments in an indepth series during September and October.
We’ve said before that these are some of the most compassionate, dedicated and focused men and women we ever met. They do their jobs – without pay – all hours of the day and night, every day of the year. Just to become certified firefighter requires so much of their time.
Carter said he was extremely proud of the group.
“My little chest puffs out when I talk about our firefighters,” he said. “They usually get paid no attention.”
We were very proud, also. You couldn’t help but feel that pride as you watched the men accept the award for their department.
Many people have no idea how valuable firefighter services are until they need them. The firefighters’ love for the community is obvious. In addition to the firefighting and emergency response duties, they have to work on fundraisers and numerous community improvement projects.
They’re not only credited for saving lives and property, they’ve helped homeowners save money by lowering the Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating throughout the county. That lower rating reduces their insurance premiums for homes and businesses. Again, that meant extra hours of training to accomplish that feat.
“Thank you for that ISO rating,” said Council member Jack Estridge. “That’s means a lot to homeowners.”
It was said during the ceremony that several churches will be recognizing firefighters in their services today. We’re glad they are doing that. And we hope you’ll take a moment to thank them for their unselfish acts of compassion and commitment to our community.