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Volunteer Firefighters: Lauding Their Dedicated Service to the Public

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Firetruck and volunteer firefighters in our subdivision

Firetruck and volunteer firefighters in our subdivision

Fire Sirens

Is there anyone who does not perk up their ears when hearing the strident sounds of fire sirens? Those sirens and the roar of horns blaring as firemen on their large well-equipped fire trucks go racing down streets, navigating their way through crowded intersections on their way to fight the latest fire or save people from a calamity is enough to awaken anyone!

Sometimes this haunting sound awakens one in the dead of night from a sound slumber.

One might be enjoying the peaceful sights and sounds of birds chirping and butterflies alighting on nearby flowers when suddenly one's attention is arrested by the familiar sounds of fire trucks and volunteer firefighters breaking the quietude racing towards the latest emergency call.

Where would we be without the dedicated service of these men and women who sacrifice their own time to help serve and aid others in their community?

Unsung Heroes

All firefighters and emergency medical personnel who respond to emergency calls are heroes. They deserve our respect and admiration for the dangerous jobs undertaken for the greater good of our homes, surroundings, and even our very lives.

Seventy-one percent of all firemen in the United States (according to Wikipedia) are volunteers. That, in my opinion, calls for these unsung heroes to deserve even more of our esteem.

They interrupt their lives at all times of the day and night to help others in need, and they receive no payments of money for their service.

Training to be a Fireman

We have a good friend whose son is a volunteer fireman. Whether night or day, he is always ready to give his best effort to address whatever situation arises when he gets the call to help.

From what I have gathered, volunteer firefighters have to meet requirements which might vary a bit from county to county, state to state, and certainly in different countries.

  • There are age requirements and physical fitness requirements that make perfect sense. At times depending upon the circumstances, these firefighters experience being pushed to their limits of maximum endurance.
  • They have to be able to lift weights and can make the difference between life and death. In the instance of a person who has passed out due to smoke inhalation or other causes, these superheroes can lift and remove that person from the encroaching flames of a fire and take them to safety, where they then receive life support measures.
  • Sometimes they are on their feet encased in their bulky and heavy firemen clothing for countless hours and even days at a time with minimal breaks for food and or rest.

This situation has happened in many cases of virulent wildfires that consume everything in their path. These brave firefighters try to establish a foothold and keep addressing the erratic fires that often change course with a shift in the wind currents. They try to save as much land, lodgings, animal, and human life as possible.

Firefighters must continually keep their firefighting skills up to date. They learn how to use all requisite firefighting equipment and different firefighting tactics to their best advantage. Firefighting with all of their might, using all of the equipment and human power available, tragedies are often averted or lessened in severity.

Firetrucks and volunteer firefighters in our neighborhood

Firetrucks and volunteer firefighters in our neighborhood

Our Neighborhood Experience

One late afternoon several months ago, when the Houston, Texas temperatures were topping out at over one hundred degrees day after relentless day, we heard a loud booming sound. Suddenly, all of us in the neighborhood had no electricity. We would soon find out that a transformer in a neighbor's backyard had been the cause, and it did not take long before the sirens of firetrucks were blasting the airwaves with their strident sounds.

When they were pulling up on our very street, they drew the attention of the nearby neighbors, including us. We went outside to see what was the cause of all the commotion.

It turned out that the transformer box that had blown had also caught fire in a neighbor's backyard just two houses away from our home. It did not take long for the firefighters to extinguish the flames. Some of them stayed until the electric company folks arrived to assure continued safety for those of us in nearby houses. The firefighters were making sure the faulty piece of electric equipment would not smolder back to life.

As mentioned, the heat was sweltering. Yet these dedicated people wore their uniforms which had to be miserable under the circumstances. Of course, those same uniforms can protect their lives as they are fire, heat, and water-resistant when needed.

I took the photos of these volunteer firemen and the firetrucks from our front yard. Thank heavens it was not an actual house fire that caused them to be in our neighborhood.

Firetruck and volunteer firemen on our street

Firetruck and volunteer firemen on our street

Smoke Color

One day recently, when my friend was over here visiting, her volunteer fireman son called her and sent her a picture of the smoke rising from a fire at Garden Ridge Pottery on the northern reaches of Houston. They could tell by the color of the smoke as to what the fire was doing.

Sometimes by reading the smoke, they can tell things like how hot the fire is and if a building is in imminent danger of collapse. That can save lives, including their own. I did not realize that smoke damage alone can cause structures to fail, so it is not only flames that do the damage.

The video below explains more about this aspect.

The Movie Backdraft

Speaking of flames, did any of you readers see the 1991 movie titled Backdraft? I vividly remember seeing it with my mother. We both left the movie theater feeling amazed that anyone would purposely put themselves in danger by fighting fires with the potential of things like back-drafts and flash-overs suddenly and explosively erupting before them.

Thank heavens we have brave men and women who are unafraid and who do these selfless jobs!

There is no way to tell when one of us might require services from these highly trained individuals who keep their firefighting skills up to date. It could be a highway accident involving a fuel spill, a kitchen accident, where flames from a fire on the stove get out of hand, a careless cigarette butt cast aside that starts a forest fire, or any number of other scenarios that signal a call to these dedicated individuals.

In some cases, being a volunteer firefighter can eventually lead to a paying job as a city-employed fireman. But for the most part and in the majority of areas country-wide, most people rely upon the services of volunteers to save us from instances when fires endanger structures, lives, and livelihoods.

One brave young man serving as a volunteer fireman

One brave young man serving as a volunteer fireman

The next time we encounter a volunteer firefighter or EMT (emergency medical technician), we should thank them for their dedicated service. They are all unsung heroes who live and work among us but who rise to the occasion of assisting others at a moment's notice.

Firefighters and EMTs performing a rescue

Firefighters and EMTs performing a rescue

Sources:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Peggy Woods

Comments are most welcome!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 29, 2021:

Hi Sandra,

We owe volunteer firefighters much in gratitude for what they do. Thanks for your comment.

Sandra on April 29, 2021:

I have great admiration for the volunteer fire fighters who are always ready to respond to a neighborhood crisis.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 29, 2018:

Hi Ethel,

Yes, many of our firefighters are volunteers. They are true heroes!

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on October 29, 2018:

Absolute heroes. Had not realised so many in USA were still employed on a volunteer basis

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 29, 2016:

Hi Susie,

Yes...we certainly should always honor and respect those who give their time and service to help others. Being paid to do it is one thing...and honorable because of the risk involved. But volunteer fireman should be lauded even more! They do it for the love of their fellow man. Appreciate your comment.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on October 28, 2016:

Volunteer firemen are dedicated to serving their communities, and to being there for us when we need it most...doesn't mean there has to be a fire for them to come to our aid. I respect them, and appreciate their good deeds, and I see that you do too, Peggy. - Kudos!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 02, 2015:

Hi peachpurple,

Being a fireman can certainly be dangerous but thank heavens some people are willing to risk it for the sake of everyone else. There are other dangerous professions as well and it is good that some are willing to step up and do those jobs.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on May 02, 2015:

here, nobody wanted to be part of the firemen team, afraid of death, Americans are braver

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 05, 2013:

Hello LKMore01,

So glad that you liked this article about the important role volunteer firemen play in our lives. Appreciate your comment and votes.

LKMore01 on May 04, 2013:

Voted up and Awesome, Peggy W. What a wonderful way to pay tribute to these brave selfless volunteers. We all need to show our respect and support for the men and women who put their lives in danger for us every single day. Thank you for writng such a humbling article.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 04, 2013:

Hi Kathryn,

Yes...volunteer firemen need to be appreciated and lauded for what they do at a moments notice to help humanity in a time of distress. Were it not for their unselfish willingness to step forward, train hard and be available night and day, we would all suffer the effects of what fire can do even more than now. Many towns and municipalities cannot afford to pay as many firemen as needed...so these volunteers fill a much needed role. Thanks for your comment.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on May 04, 2013:

That was a beautiful tribute! I always appreciate them, but this article has really helped me to appreciate the volunteer firefighters even more. To be a part of something potentially dangerous, and disrupt life, without even getting paid for it is very honorable.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 03, 2013:

Hi Rajan,

I think that most people do not realize the dedication and love of humanity that most of these volunteer firemen have. It is truly a special calling and one that we should all appreciate. They risk their lives to save the rest of us when in need of their services. Appreciate your votes and shares.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 03, 2013:

Peggy, excellent hub on these brave volunteer firemen who do this great service out of a feeling of love for humanity. They need to be lauded for this yeoman work.

Voted up, useful, interesting, awesome, shared and pinned.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 16, 2013:

Hi moonlake,

Volunteer firemen have to pass tests and standards even if they are volunteer. It is a definite calling for some who are qualified and we are certainly in their debt. Thanks for your comment and share.

moonlake from America on April 16, 2013:

Here a person can't just be a volunteer fireman just because they want to. It's by invitation only. Enjoyed your hub and will share this with others. We have always thought that was a little strange. You would think they would need all the help they could get.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2013:

Hello jo77379,

Thanks for adding to this discussion. That is amazing that volunteer firefighters have to pay for the emergency lights and sirens out of their own pockets! That is true dedication on their part in helping humanity. Talk about selfless service to others!!! They deserve much praise and admiration for their work on our behalf.

If this information gets out there. perhaps more people will be willing to support their local volunteer fire departments. Thank you for your comment.

jo77379 on April 06, 2013:

You should also know that these volunteer are not reimbursed to the emergency lights and sirens on their personal vehicles so they can get to the station quickly. Sometimes, that could run into the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. You should also know that a fire doubles in size every 30 seconds.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2013:

Hi beingwell,

Firemen do have to pass physical fitness training and obviously have to have a certain amount of strength in order to carry out their important duties including those of saving lives. Therefore a person of slight build and who can not lift weights would probably not qualify. Thanks for your interest. :)

beingwell from Bangkok on March 28, 2013:

Great hub, peggy! In TV shows (well mostly comedy sit-coms), firemen were always portrayed by big bud, hunky men. Is this true in real life? I'm from Asia, this doesn't apply to us. haha!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 03, 2012:

Hi alocsin,

I'll bet that country wide we have more volunteer firemen than paid ones taking in all of the small towns and areas like where we live in the county. Yes, it is amazing that they put their lives on the line to benefit the rest of us. They are a special breed of humankind to be sure. Thanks for your comment and votes.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on November 03, 2012:

Hats off to these folks, Peggy. The job is dangerous enough but the fact that some people would choose to volunteer for it is incredible. The only possible advantage, other than public service, is that they might be considered for a full-time job, that is if their hiring locations ever pay for the service, which nowadays, is becoming less likely. Voting this Up and Interesting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 19, 2012:

Hello wwolfs,

You are so right in that firemen and EMT's do not get enough credit nor pay, for that matter. Our lives and possessions are literally in their capable hands when and if the occasion demands it. Sadly, some of them even lose their lives when they are serving to protect us. We owe them a great debt of gratitude. Thanks for your comment and votes. Enjoy your day!

wwolfs on May 19, 2012:

This is another industry that I don't feel always get the praise and recognition they deserve for their dedication and services. It is a dangerous job and many times without pay.

EMT is another great service. Today I will be attending an event with my son who will be showing many different firetrucks and rescue units. It will be interesting to see the vehicles close up. Nice hub and well-written. Thank you for sharing!

Voted up, interesting, and awesome!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 02, 2011:

Hi Cheryl,

It is true. Volunteer firemen put their lives on hold at all times of the day and night in order to help others. They deserve so much praise and gratitude in return. They are very special people! Thanks for your comment.

Cheryl J. from Houston, TX on November 02, 2011:

Great hub. I salute the volunteer firefighters. They give up so much to take care of everyone. They leave their families at a moments notice. We owe so much to our firemen. They deserve more recognition and awards for their dedication and service in helping all people. Wonderful photos and videos. Excellent.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 30, 2011:

Hi Hanna,

So glad that you appreciated this tribute to the brave volunteer firemen and emergency personnel among us who dedicate their lives to helping others. Thanks!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on October 30, 2011:

A wonderful tribute to people who hardly are in the limelight for the hard and dangerous job they do everyday.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 28, 2011:

Hi RedElf,

Thanks for your comment. Like you...we all need to respect these brave men and women that choose to serve all of us.

RedElf from Canada on October 28, 2011:

We have a volunteer fire brigade up here too - I have so much respect for these brave men and women!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 28, 2011:

Hi Dim,

Glad that you liked this hub about the dedicated service our volunteer firemen give us every day of their lives. Thanks for your comment.

Dim Flaxenwick from Great Britain on October 28, 2011:

l couldn´t agree more with you about the hard and dangerous work of firefighters, and VOLUNTEERS !!!!!

You made this hub wonderful with your use of pics and videos.

A real treat.

Thank you.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 28, 2011:

Hi thelyricwriter,

When the firemen were practically outside of our door, the first thing I thought to do was grab my camera. I had no idea what reason they had been called at first so was glad that it was a relatively minor problem. Thanks for the compliment on my photos. Nice that you praise the volunteer firefighters in your area! Am certain that they appreciate it!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 28, 2011:

Hi Judi,

Thanks for adding to what firemen do like scaling the towers and also doing water rescues. They do so much more than just trying to extinguish fires. As a mom of a volunteer firefighter you have every reason to be proud! The world is a better place because of men like your Matt. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 28, 2011:

Hi again SusieQ,

Blessings to you and yours also! And lets all say a few extra prayers for the firemen and others who help keep us safe. Thanks!

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on October 28, 2011:

up, useful, and interesting Peggy. I notice all your pictures are your own. You really get out a lot Peg. You take great pictures by the way. Most of the firemen here in Logan are volunteer and I do praise them when I get the chance. They surely don't do it for the money. A well written article that shows the value of firemen Peggy. Take care.

Judi O from Texas on October 28, 2011:

Thanks, Peggy, for bringing this to the forefront. I'm sure every volunteer firefighter would appreciate it. Matt is also trained to scale those high cell antennae and water towers. Additionally, he can do swift water rescues too. As a mom, it makes be both nervous and proud. He's a good kid! Or, should I say, man!

SusieQ42 on October 28, 2011:

You're very welcome! This is a great hub and should get lots of attention. Blessings to you and yours. Susieq

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 27, 2011:

Hi SusieQ,

The Houston city firemen also get paid but those in the county where we live are mostly volunteer. Around the country supposedly 71% of all firemen are volunteer! To me that is an amazing statistic! Whether paid or not, we owe them great respect and thanks. Thank you for your comment.

SusieQ42 on October 27, 2011:

Firemen do commit their lives to a noteworthy service. We have paid firemen in our city though and I'm so glad they do. Thanks for the great hub!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 27, 2011:

Hello Simone,

It is so easy to take things for granted. I just wanted to shine a light on these brave men and women who take on these important roles to help protect us in times of need and at great cost regarding their own time and sometimes even their own lives. Such dedicated service to others! Thanks for your comment.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on October 27, 2011:

I am so inspired by this wonderful Hub... I've never really stopped and thought about the amazing things that firemen- be they volunteers or not- do to protect and serve a community. I'm so glad you wrote this, Peggy W!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 27, 2011:

Hello Candie,

You made some excellent points as to other things that firefighers also do. Let's not forget rescuing kittens out of trees! If they have the time, they have been known to do things like that as well. :)) Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 27, 2011:

Hello LittleWhistle,

Firefighters whether paid or volunteer are all heroes in my book. Nice to know that you appreciate the ones in your town. Thanks for your comment.

Candie V from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure! on October 27, 2011:

I don't know of a profession that can get the immediate and awestruck attention of a school bus full of kids, like the sight of a fire truck - and if the lights/sirens are going - they are dead silent!

They provide more services than just life and property saving. I have a friend with MS and needed to be moved (bed and her) up to the 2nd level of their home. The firefighters came out and got her moved, and set up and it was a delight to watch them work! So careful and so professional.

They hold CPR classes, they do presentations at the schools, they participate in the 4th of July parade and, along with their spotted dog, set up in the local grocery store parking lot and just talk to everyone - answer questions and show off for the kids. Love the local firefighters and staff!!

LittleWhistle on October 27, 2011:

Excellent hub on firefighters, Peggy! I'm very proud of the local stations around my town and the work they do! Bravo Firefighters! You are my heros!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 27, 2011:

Hi dahoglund,

In and around Houston it is generally fuel spills on the highways and/or all out car fires; house and apartment fires and of late, wildfires that keep our volunteer firemen busy.

When I was a child in Wisconsin, I remember some volunteer firemen coming out to our house to help put out a field fire. Since our house and the few around us were surrounded by fields, that could have been serious had it not been extinguished. The last time I was up in our area of Oconomowoc, it was all built up with homes where our fields had been. Thanks for being the first to comment and thanks for the votes.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on October 26, 2011:

I agree with you that there is something unique about volunteer firemen.When I worked on a weekly paper I remember fire calls. Usually the directions led to the town garbage dump. But you never know when it might be something more serious. I voted up,interesting and awesome.

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