EDITORIAL: Firefighters deserve thanks and support

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The Ironton Fire Department responded to two structure fires this weekend.

One was at an apartment on Vernon Street, where minimal damage was reported. The other took place on First Street, where a family’s home was completely destroyed by a blaze on Saturday morning.

While the home was a loss, neighbors on the street were extremely grateful that fire crews were able to keep the blaze contained to one home, rather than having it spread and engulf more residences.

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And, thankfully, no lives were lost in either fire, but it shows how essential the public servants in the department are to society.

We should all be grateful for the work of those who serve in fire departments, whether it is a city crew like Ironton’s or volunteer departments in villages and townships throughout the county.

Carrying cumbersome equipment and wearing heavy uniforms, they work to protect people, property and pets when fire strikes and have to be ready at a moment’s notice.

Whether it is a structure fire, a car crash or responding to an overdose or medical emergency, they are always available when needed.

And it is a high-risk job. In 2020, 140 were killed on the job in the United States, and, of those, 78 were from COVID-19 infections after being exposed on a medical call. While most were avoiding public gatherings and limiting contacts before a vaccine was developed, those in emergency services still answered the call when needed.

The sacrifices of firefighters have mounted over history — whether it was the hundreds of firefighters killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks after they rushed into the burning World Trade Center ahead of its collapse, or, more locally, in 1949, the seven killed and 15 injured in Charleston, West Virginia (the largest count for a single department from a blaze in the U.S. to that date) when crews responding to a fire in a Woolworth’s department store found the floor under them give way, sending them into the fire-filled basement.

We should never take for granted the service of those in this profession, which requires dedication, bravery and selflessness.

Let us hope that all cities and villages continue to see to it that they are properly equipped and that grants are available to departments from the state level.

And let’s keep the backing from the community coming.

When next you see a boot drive, pancake breakfast or other fundraising event from a local department, please offer your support and be sure to thank them for all that they do.