Letter: Work about more than fire

Dear Editor,

I am your firefighter.

I have been at this awhile and it never gets easier. You see I have had some hard times. This past year I saw multiple people lose their lives, some took their last breaths in front of me, some we could have never made it to in time to help. I can’t even begin to tell you the things I’ve had to lay my eyes on. I have seen personal possessions burnt beyond recognition, vehicles destroyed, sick or injured children crying out for help. I have waited with patients for sometimes over an hour, waiting for advanced medical response, all the while wishing I could do more. I missed a few birthdays and holidays with family because my place of employment does not close early or shut down for a day. My wife and kids went to bed without their father at home over 70-plus nights last year. The divorce rates are high, our staffing is low and our morale sometimes takes a beating. Just like you can’t pick your family, I can’t pick the firefighter next to me. Almost all of them are great, but every place has their rotten apples I suppose.

It takes multiple days and showers to get the smoke smell out of my skin and hair after a fire, I know this can’t be good for my body. So why do I do it?

I love my job. Remember when you brought your child to the hall? That was the highlight of my day. When I was called to assist your husband back in to bed because he is a bit frail and stumbled, that was the least I could do for the time you have put in on this earth. When you waved to me in the truck, I graciously waved back to a happy customer. We talked at the Relay for Life, or maybe it was Aldergrove Days, perhaps at the LMH Gala or Otter Co-Op Ladies night. I am sorry I cannot remember specifically but it was nice to hear from you. Saving your neighbour’s house from a fire was what I trained for over the last decade, there is no need to thank me, just make sure your smoke detectors are working please. I apologize we don’t talk much when we pass in the morning, I who is groggy from night shift and ready to go to bed, you who is not a morning person on your way to your job.

I just wanted to say thank you for your support, thank you for asking how my shift went, thank you for that dollar you put in the boot, thank you for waving at the truck, thank you for the cookies at Christmas, thank you for counting on me and thank you for being a great neighbour.

Steven McCaffrey, Langley

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