Who comes when you call 911?
12 June 2006
Approximately 75% of firefighters in the United States are volunteers. If you live in a city of perhaps 100,000 or more people, there is almost certainly a cadre of paid staff who protect the municipal area, but many suburbs and rural areas are protected by volunteers.
Without entering into a discussion of sematics for ‘professional,’ versus ‘amateur,’ it is important to remember that these people have chosen to fulfill their civic responsibility by helping others in times of crisis. Volunteer firefighters are not blameless, nor are they saints, but they deserve to be recognized as contributing members of the community if they conduct themselves as such.
Most fire stations have the doors open when somebody is there, and they rarely shy away from visitors stopping by and introducing themselves. Getting to know these people before they show up in their official capacity can be a valuable contact, and who knows, you might even find yourself offering to help with something.
The best firefighters I know are not six-foot, square-jawed, weight lifters, but people who put effort and concientiousness into their duties. Find out who your local emergency service workers are, and you will both benefit from the knowledge.