Our community is blessed with volunteer firefighters

Published 11:23 am Friday, March 1, 2024

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The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office during Volunteers Firefighters Week (March 3-9) honor the bravery, dedication, and sacrifices of volunteer firefighters.

Volunteer firefighters are the unsung heroes not too many people think about – until they need them.

The county’s volunteer firefighters do a job that not only protects property and communities, but also saves lives.

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They are there when families face some of their worst days – sometimes on a highway and sometimes in a neighborhood.

They often see loss of life, and battle blazes to save many more. And, the work they do as first responders, in many cases, is what gives accident victims a fighting chance.

What is striking about the men – and women – who serve in these roles is the commitment they make. They are unpaid, they raise money to make sure they have the training, the equipment, and the support they need to do the job they are called to do.

They often have day jobs, and most are raising families, too.

They give up nights, weekends, and a sound sleep, But when they answer those calls, no one is there to do their job or to take the children to school. They have those responsibilities, too.

And, if you think that the money they raise covers all their expenses, think again.

They invest, too.

Many of them are generational firefighters, following in the footsteps of a father or grandfather. They know what the job takes because many of them have been in the fire house since they were children.

No one can possibly explain the toll it must take physically to haul a hose, to brave a freezing mist that slaps back in your face as you extinguish a blaze or the adrenaline it must take to advance on a burning building because you know there is someone inside.

But there are other stresses as well.

The emotional toll it takes to come up on a fatal crash or to see someone in severe distress who is trapped in a vehicle is significant.

Those are sights you cannot erase from your memory. Yet, these volunteers know that they have to answer the next call – no matter how hard the previous one was.

Volunteer firefighters need support. They need their community to buy their fundraiser tickets and to be part of auctions and anything else that brings in the money they need to do the training and to have equipment that keeps them safe.

And all of that is not cheap.

We might not pay those who serve, but we can thank them by letting them know that their contributions and their sacrifices are noted and appreciated.

This county is lucky to have so many dedicated volunteer firefighters – as well as first responders and emergency medical technicians. They are in every community in Carter County – from Butler and Elk Mills to West Carter County to communities in between, including Hampton-Valley Forge, Roan Mountain, Stoney Creek, and Central.

The work they do is selfless – and sometimes dangerous.

We owe them a debt that we cannot possibly repay.

And for those out there who aspire to be one of their numbers, who have firefighting and rescue in their blood, we salute you.

You are doing your community a real service, one that we might not always acknowledge, but one that has impacted many, many families for generations.

It is a noble calling — and one that we support and admire.

This is a resource no community wants to lose. But to keep it, we have to do our part.

Take time this week to say “thank you” to a volunteer fireman.