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Home / WLF FamilySaid / Comment by Sammi

  • 11/03/2003
  • WildlandFire.com Team
  • 0 Comment

Gantenbein article: Even though the article is being referenced on They said I am going to put my thought’s on Family because it will be full of emotions.

First I am going to assume that Mr. Gantenbein also reads family, and if so “Sir you are full of crap!!!!!”. I am going to address your article from a structure perspective as that is the arena you have chosen. if you want to move to wildland that can be addressed also……

Cushy job: step into the turn-outs and boots of a structure FF for a week and lets see how you do. I am not even going to try and come up with the number of hours a year that is spent in training. All the drills, keeping the equipment and stations spotless not to mention in good working order. The reports and subsequent paperwork, usually a fair share done on your off time. All the family events you miss. Children’s moments, wife’s moments.

How much would you expect to be paid for cleaning up someone’s daughters brains off the highway? How much is it worth to have to catch a mom who arrives at the scene of her son’s motorcycle accident and stop her from seeing her son’s body without a head or legs? Have you ever climbed in a wrecked car and stayed under a tarp holding a mothers hand while they cut her out of the car. And all the time you know her three children are dead in the back seat?

How many families have you consoled as the only home they have ever known burns to the ground? Have you ever handed a child a burnt ceramic angel, that is the only thing she has left. Have you ever stood on a rain soaked highway with a hose so if the flames start up again you can put the flames out on a mans body as it lies there behind his destroyed truck? While you are standing there by yourself guarding this poor man’s body you hear a ring and look around and it is the man’s cell phone laying next to him on the pavement. Would you have wondered if it was his wife calling to see when he would be home from work? And you know he will never get home again. (this one caused nightmares for weeks) (and the nightmares are on your free time)

Have you ever given CPR to a three year old little girl who was accidentally run over by her mother? And as you do CPR you know the baby is gone, never to be with her family again. But you keep up the CPR for the sake of the family, you know they do not need to question that everything possible was done for their child. Then four days later you go to the funeral with five other FF to show your respects. (On your day off) Hoopla, naw, just good ole fashioned decency. (and the mom later wrote the sweetest letter, thanking the FF for all they did at scene and for their support at the funeral)

Every FF out there has the experiences, the “hard one” as they are called. No one gets paid enough to do this. How can you justify complaining because these FF have a couple of hours of down time. They can expend more energy in 5 minutes than you do in a week. How many meals have you missed because just as you get your food fixed the tones go off and 6 hrs later you get back to eat it? I sir have many times cooked Christmas, Thanksgiving or other holiday dinner, packed up my children, a few new toys and gone to the Fire Station so they can eat with their dad and guess what? Somebody has a fire in their house or a car wreck and daddy is off on his engine and the children and I pack up and go back home. You may have been a mountain rescue person, and if so it was a needed endeavor. But, I have to add somehow that does not quite give you credentials to bad mouth firefighters.

Firefighting isn’t that dangerous? Of course it is. Just from the unexpected that can happen (towers, burn overs, explosions) it is very dangerous. Thank the Gods, the danger level is manageable because of all the training and safety measures that are drilled and re drilled into those “little hero heads”. And yes there is going to always be those sneaky problems no one thought of, like communication problems.

Out of all the video I saw when the Towers went down, one interview of a woman that survived still haunts my thoughts. She said as she was running down the stairs “all those young, vibrant, strong firefighters were going UP the stairs.” And as I saw that interview I was in tears because I knew if my sons had been there, they would have been going UP those stairs.

From my side: have you ever been at home listening to a scanner and hear that a semi has rammed a car that was involved in a wreck and you know your spouse and two of your sons are on that scene when the semi hits it? How would you feel when someone starts asking for more paramedics to be dispatched to scene? When you hear that three FF are down? And then one of the FF is so injured they are transporting by Engine? how many cookies can one mom and wife bake in two hours? About a months worth!!!!! (none of my family was hurt and one FF had internal injuries but returned to work a few weeks later, one had broken legs and another a concussion)

Adrenalin junkies, absolutely. Who else would do the job? And they love their jobs…….

Funerals: yep they are a big deal. And don’t you dare presume that the Washington state families were being tortured by the show of support. Were you even there? They were tortured but it was from loss of family members, it’s called deep grief. And take it from someone who has been there. Those families probably do not remember a lot about the services but they will remember the awesome support they received from all the agencies who were there to SHOW THEIR RESPECT for their lost ones. All that hoopla is part of the grieving process and actually helps some people in their acceptance stage of the grief process.

Idaho had a State Policewoman killed several years ago. Our son was chosen to go with a crew on one of the EMS rigs from Washington State to the funeral in Southern Idaho. There was a caravan of seven rigs, fire trucks, ambulances, etc that made the trip. He took pictures of people on the interstate overpasses waving American Flags at the crews as they passed on the way to the town where the funeral was held. Do you feel the same about the military funerals? So sir it is not just fire that honors their fallen.

I have a problem with young FF who don the hero mantle and then forget they are not superman and get hurt. You bet!!!! But you know what, just from reading your article and writing this reply I have decided I am going to make a special effort this week to thank my husband and my children for the jobs they do everyday even for people like you.

from one very proud momma…


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