Firefighters have long captured the imagination of little boys, and perhaps little girls in today’s world, who often dream of following in the footsteps of their role models and becoming heroes to families and communities in need.
Many of these youngsters grow up to pursue such careers as adults and as such they become diamonds in the eyes of their own children and grandchildren.
Since the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, firefighters have taken an even brighter luster because of the heroism — and sometimes the ultimate sacrifice — they offer on a routine basis. Thankfully, their courage is not brought into play on a daily basis, but they remain on standby on a day-to-day and night-to-night vigil. No one knows when flames of terror will strike fear into the hearts of the innocent.
These are reasons pointing to the importance of understanding the role of firefighters, and of appreciating the presence of community fire departments. In our hometown alone, we are graced with the professionalism of two critical operations — the Cleveland Fire Department and Bradley County Fire Rescue, and this is not to exclude the trained volunteers of the longtime Charleston Fire Department.
Each is important. All are critical to the well-being of the communities, and the safety of the residents who call them home.
On Saturday, the Cleveland Fire Department will provide a rare opportunity to the public. It is a series of open houses scheduled for each city fire station from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Live demonstrations will be provided. These activities will help the public to better understand the work of Cleveland firefighters and the extensive training they go through in order to hold such critical roles.
In explaining the purpose of this weekend event, CFD Chief Steve Haun told our newspaper the idea came from a firefighting conference he attended recently in Atlanta.
“We found out all people like fire departments, but they may not know exactly what all we do, or they want to learn more about us and the equipment we utilize,” he said. “We wanted to open an opportunity for the community to see what we do and how we work.”
It is an excellent concept because an informed community can focus a better tuned eye to how taxpayer dollars are being spent, what needs to be done to maximize support for firefighters and how local government leaders can stay abreast to the challenges faced by fire departments every day.
Saturday’s events won’t be the first open house held at an individual fire station in Cleveland, but it will be the first time all city firehalls have participated in such an activity at the same time.
Haun is excited about the open house because he sees it as an opportunity for area residents to learn more about the city’s firefighting operation, and to meet in person the men and women who make it run.
We agree. Saturday’s open house will serve multiple purposes, one of which will be to provide smoke alarms to those in need of them. Another will be all-important demonstrations that point to the professional conduct, and the extensive training, that firefighters must adhere to on each shift.
Obviously, Cleveland fire stations are open to taxpayers at all times, but the coming activities will serve in a dual role of appreciation. By seeing for themselves, community residents can best appreciate the firefighters as faces and names, not just as helmets and uniforms. By hosting these visitors, firefighters will have a unique opportunity to thank the community — and taxpayers — for past, present and future support.
Planned demonstrations include Station 1, 555 South Ocoee St., hose and physical agility; Station 2, 505 Paul Huff Parkway, fire extinguisher training; Station 3, 2000 APD 40, hose lines; Station 4, 2850 Keith St., extrication; and Station 5, 2595 Freewill Road, smoke house (mobile unit) demonstrations.
We urge families to visit a city fire station Saturday — parents and children.
It is a proactive event that could save lives while linking faces and names to the heroic acts they perform.