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The Appreciated

January 16, 2011

They drop whatever they are doing, whatever time you request them. They rush to the station, sometimes straight to the scene. The protection of your property and your life – that’s their job.

The majority of Kansans who call themselves “firefighters” are volunteers. On January 13, 2011 one of those members gave the ultimate sacrifice of his life. Downs Fire Captain Jim Niles died of an apparent heart attack at a garage fire.

Most people are lucky – they live their whole lives without ever needing the assistance of their fire department. That makes it understandable why many fail to realize the sacrifice made by volunteer firefighters – understandable, not acceptable.

So, what is acceptable?

Training: Properly trained firefighters equates to reduced injuries and deaths. Support the costs of providing training to your firefighters.

Personal Protective Gear: Firefighter gear is expensive and it doesn’t last forever. Communities must be committed to properly “gear up” their firefighters. Then, you must set aside dollars to make sure the replacement funds are in place for future replacement needs.

Vehicles: It should go without saying that a firefighter needs a reliable fire truck to do his/her job. Too many firefighters die because they are struck by a fire truck with failed brakes, or a house burns because a fire truck’s pump won’t work. Trucks don’t have to be new, but they should be reliable.

Appreciation: A wise administrative assistant once taught me three valuable words – “You are appreciated!” The words seem insignificant, yet they are not. Don’t pass up a chance to tell a volunteer they are appreciated.

And, with that said, let me close by saying those same words to you the citizens, for the support you give your emergency service, “You are appreciated.”

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