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Editorial: Don’t take their service for granted

One should never take community service for granted and yet, we’re all probably guilty of not thinking through what’s really involved.

Take being a volunteer firefighter.

The men and women who join their local departments come from all types of experience and different backgrounds, but they do share a common desire — to give back to their community through this crucial service, one where time is such an important factor.

But that time isn’t just measured in how quickly these volunteers arrive on the scene to battle a blaze. It’s also measured in the time they give in training and practice or in helping to raise money to help ease the impact the department has on the taxpayers in town.

All of this time is given on top of what these firefighters (and other emergency responders) do away from the station or getting in their vehicle to head off to the scene of a fire. For many it’s a full-time job, attending school or some kind of combination of work and school. And yet when the alarm goes out, they respond because they understand that they are the difference makers when it comes to someone seeing their homes or property damaged by fire or having the whole thing go up in smoke.

And they do so at all times of the day or night and under all kinds of weather conditions. While many of us are safe and warm in our home, these volunteers are out answering an emergency call whether it’s raining, snowing or just freezing. Sometimes it may be just down the road. Or the call may come to help a neighboring town, since mutual aid is a critical component in responding to a fire with appropriate manpower and equipment.

Yet they get no respite because of what’s happening with the weather. There’s no shutting off the scanner or beeper and rolling over to go back to bed. Just because it’s sleeting at 4 a.m., doesn’t mean the emergency is canceled.

Maybe we take it for granted that emergency personnel, even the volunteers, just do their jobs regardless of the time or conditions.

But we shouldn’t.

And while it isn’t much, the least we can do is offer our thanks and our support.

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