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Boot brigade: firefighters outdo themselves

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By Melissa Blankenship

Ask any charitable organization and they’ll tell you the most precious commodity to come by these days is time. Folks are much more likely to write a check or put together a bag of clothes to donate than allot any of their time to a particular cause.

But the men and women of our county’s volunteer fire departments are different.

Our firefighters spend hundreds of hours in training, on scenes of fires and accidents and at the firehouse maintaining their equipment. That’s why it never ceases to amaze me the number of hours they spend collecting for the Crusade for Children.

Evenings and weekends, they take turns standing at their road blocks, with smiles on their faces, boots extended to receive the crumpled dollar bills and handfuls of change from people’s consoles.

They walk door-to-door in town and drive rural routes collecting from the homes and families they hope they never have to serve.

They spend hours bent over fish fryers and plating baked beans and cole slaw at fish frys in sweltering firehouse kitchens.

They wash cars, bake goods, work yard sales and do anything else they can think of to support the medical care of children throughout Kentucky through the Crusade.

They do all that on top of the time they already commit to community service through being a volunteer firefighter. Amazingly, they have fun doing it. I’ve never heard a firefighter (or their spouse or their children, because they are there, too) complain about working for the Crusade. In fact, I don’t think I’ve heard a firefighter complain about donating hundreds of hours to become a firefighter, keep up their training or get pulled out of bed all weekend long for wrecks or fires.

I’ve noticed that most of our fire departments become extended families for the members. Partly, because they have to trust and rely on each other in life and death situations, but also because they spend so much time together. Their children play together in the firehouse and spouses usually serve in an auxillary capacity. Once a family becomes part of the department’s family, they rarely leave. The children train to become junior firefighters, then full-fledged firefighters and then they answer emergency calls until age and physical condition mandate they just can’t do it anymore. Then they find other ways to serve.

I have never needed the services of our firefighters. I pray I never do, but I know that if I find myself in a situation that calls for that kind of help, I can count on the volunteers in my community to rush to my aid. Thank you for that knowledge, that security and that comfort.

Thank you to all of our volunteer firefighters for your time, your expertise, your dedication and your generosity.

I’ve always said it takes a special kind of person to run into a burning building when everybody else is running out.

Our firefighters do that and so much more.