Letters to the Editor: October 2020

Firehouse pumpkins
A Firefighter No More, But Forever More A Firefighter

No more shall I be called a paid or volunteer firefighter for I will be known as a retired firefighter,

No more will I fly to the truck as the tones drop,

No more will I check for that faint heartbeat I so want to hear,

No more will I cut away the metal from your loved ones as we race the call of death,

No more will I work on my patient as vehicles fly by—no one moving over for my safety,

No more will I brave the flames that destroy our homes and businesses,

No more will I wear the turnout gear that protected me so well,

No longer will I nurse the air on my back to make it last through the search,

No more will I beg for a water source to be established,

No more will I speak badly of you for not giving me the right of way so we can save someone’s life,

No more will I yell at you for not pulling to the right and stopping,

No more will I speak ill of those who park in a way that I cannot place my ladder truck for a rescue,

No more will I leave my loved one to get you out of the grips of death for the thrill of recreational sports,

No more will I miss family events for being on duty,

No more will I rappel down to the victim of job-related task and injuries,

No more will I help carry the lifeless bodies or the severely injured out of remote areas,

No more will I do CPR until I cannot go on,

No more will I rescue those in confined spaces,

No more will I go into the swift waters for a rescue that scared me more than it did you,

No more will I place my life in a Level A hazmat suit to stem the flow of toxic substance,

No more will I determine if a fire was accidental or intentional,

No more will I run the lights and sirens that say help is coming,

No more will my wife worry and pray for me to get safely home,

No more will I take that white helmet off, place it under my arm, and explain that we did all that was humanly possible to save your loved one.

Forever more I will sleep in my own bed every night,

Forever more I will be an educator and advocate for the fire service,

Forever more I will be a firefighter at heart for the youth and strength have fled from me,

Forever more I shall be on duty as a firefighter at heart until God makes my last duty call,

Forever more I shall cherish my calling as a firefighter here on earth and accept my new duty station when God makes that call.

Be safe and ever ready my firefighting family, and Godspeed.

Chief (Ret.) John W. Payne
Fire Marshal (Ret.)
Maumelle (AR) Fire Department

Paul Combs: Drawn by Fire

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