I am sure you have all read or at least heard about the 19 firefighters who were killed while battling a wildfire in Arizona.
When I first saw the headlines, I thought to myself "how tragic" and went on to the next story.
I am ashamed to say that it didn't faze me all that much at first.
In a hurry as usual, I simply glossed over it and moved on.
Later, however, I started to think about what really happened out there and what it must have been like for those firefighters to be caught in the midst of that raging inferno.
I imagine that initially, they thought it would be a day just like any other where they would go out, battle and conquer the beast and then go home and celebrate with a cold one or two.
Sadly, this was not the case.
I can't stand the heat outside when it gets to be in the mid-80s. I avoid being out in it whenever possible (unless there is a pool).
I can't even begin to imagine the intense heat that crew must have experienced as the flames began to close in on them, along with the blinding and choking smoke.
I thought about the fear they must have felt when, as a last-ditch effort to save themselves, they decided to deploy their portable fire shelters.
I wonder if they had time to think about their families and the loved ones they would leave behind.
I read that the once deployed, the shelters allow for breathable air within for just a few minutes while the fire-resistant material reflects heat as the fire burns over a person. Fire-resistant.
If the fire is intense, well fueled and slow moving, however, the shelter is ultimately unable to offer adequate protection for the individual inside.
I whimper and whine when I burn my hand on a hot stove or when I get a really bad sunburn.
The physical pain and horror these poor people must have endured made me sick to my stomach the more I thought about it.
This was an elite crew who had trained extensively for situations like this.
They knew very well what the risks were when they signed up to fight these fires and yet, there they were, out there fighting against a most destructive and deadly force of nature.
I then started thinking about our area firemen.
It takes a very brave and special person to voluntarily risk their own life every time they enter a blazing structure in order to save the life of someone who is most likely a stranger to them.
A lot goes into maintaining a well-equipped and well-trained fire department, and as we all know, it isn't free.
A couple of weeks ago I remember seeing a letter regarding the 2013 fund drive for the American Fire Co. #1 in Lansford.
In a hurry as usual, I glossed over it and put it aside.
Now, after considering all that they do, the risks they take and the sacrifices they make, I figure it's time to break out the checkbook and show my support and gratitude by helping them to continue providing their invaluable services to my community.
The next time you see a fireman, thank him or her hug them even, and remember to support your community's fire department financially as well.
The home and life they save may one day be your own.