Firefighters are special people

Thursday, January 13, 2011

One of Barry County's most outspoken and influential fire chiefs has retired from public service. The leadership of Ron Creek has not only helped the Eagle Rock-Golden-Mano Fire Protection District excel over the last 13 years, Creek's hard work also helped make the entire county safer when he joined Bob Lombard, Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department chief, and other Barry County firefighters to advocate for a county-wide 911 system in 2005. Several years later, when firefighters and first responders across the county asked for improvements in 911 dispatching, Creek gathered the Barry County fire chiefs to campaign for communications improvements, which have been implemented over the last few years.

"A fire chief is just a firefighter at heart," Creek said when I asked why he was interested in serving as a local volunteer fire chief. "We are all in the same boat to help people." Creek went on to say that the men and women he has met during his work in fire service are "special." "Who will come and lay their life on the line for someone else?" Creek asked me.

Creek's words made me think about all of the firefighters and first responders who volunteer their time in our county. These men and women rush into burning buildings when others are rushing out. These men and women race to the aid of car crash victims and individuals injured in accidents. They dedicate their lives to helping others.

In addition to being on call throughout the evenings and weekends, Barry County volunteer firefighters give up personal time to attend training sessions and educational meetings to ensure they are offering their communities the best service possible. Many of these volunteers use personal funds to attend emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic training to be more prepared when responding to crashes, fires and accidents. It is amazing to know that these people use so much of their personal time to serve not only their family, friends and neighbors but individuals they do not know who live in the county.

Even though there are a few full-time, paid firefighters in Barry County, the majority of the men and women, who battle blazes, extricate individuals from mangled vehicles and provide first response medical services for injured community members, receive no compensation for the work they do.

Creek said that he is impressed with fire chiefs and firefighters who work full-time jobs and volunteer their time to serve the community. I agree with Creek. It is very impressive to know that there are men and women in our community who volunteer so much time to serving others. It is also admirable that many retired community members, like Creek, offer their time to serve those who live in Barry County.

This editorial is my salute to Creek and all of the other fire chiefs, firefighters and first responders who selflessly volunteer their time to make our county safer. It is wonderful to know that these men and women are ready to jump out of bed in the middle of the night to come to the rescue of others. It is comforting to know that even though I live in an area without a paid fire department there are special men and women, like Creek, who are always willing to help in an emergency.

Lindsay Reed