I'd like to thank Mississauga Professional Firefighters Association for allowing us to share this with you.
|If You Don't Mind Listening
This narrative is based on a compilation of true stories taken from firefighter experiences. I'd like to add some of my own and dedicate it to the four D Shift firefighters that were injured at the Thamesgate fire in Malton, April 23, 2014. I'd like to include the fellow firefighters on scene who acted so quickly and bravely to overcome severe conditions and get their brothers to safety. I'd also like to acknowledge our Association Executive members who were on the ground immediately. Their rapid and professional response to Thamesgate was very comprehensive and highly appreciated by all those in attendance.
I have been a firefighter for 32 yrs. I'll retire this year. People ask me what its like to be a firefighter and most of the time I play it down or make a joke. To those who persist I have no trouble telling the stories which have made up some of my career experiences.
I’d like people to understand the thoughts that race through my mind as I respond to a call. Is this a false alarm or a working fire? Is it a minor incident or life threatening? How is the building constructed? What hazards might be inside the building? Is anyone trapped inside?
I’d like people to consider the unique smell of burning insulation, the taste of soot-filled mucus, the feeling of intense heat through your turnout gear, the sound of flames crackling or the eeriness of being able to see absolutely nothing in dense smoke and knowing that someone is in there and still needs you to find them.
I’d like people to comprehend a wife's horror at 6 a.m. in the morning as I check her husband of 40 years for a pulse and find none. Start CPR anyway, hoping to bring him back, knowing intuitively that it's too late but wanting his wife and family to know everything possible was done to try and save his life.
I’d like people to see the emergency room as a doctor pronounces dead, a beautiful child that we’ve been trying to save for the last hour, knowing they’ll never go on their first date or say the words "I love you too Mom," ever again.
I’d like people to know my thoughts as I try to extricate a person from the remains of an automobile. What if this was my daughter, my sister, my wife or my friend? How will her parents comprehend the overwhelming grief when they find out later that day their loved one won't be coming home again?
I'd like people to know the panic and surreal moment it takes to look past the heat and choking smoke as you desperately dig into the rubble of a collapsed wall to find a firefighter, a friend, who was just talking to you moments before.
I wish people could know how it feels to walk in the back door and greet your family not having the heart to tell them I nearly didn’t come home from work today.
Sometimes I’d like people to know what we do then maybe they’d understand that look in our eyes and know we just need to sit and breathe on our own sometimes... but never wanting them to leave the room.
I’d like to tell you what the feeling is like when you sit with an injured person knowing your eyes will be the last eyes they ever see. To have someone tugging at your arm and asking, “is he going to be ok?” or to hold back a life time friend who watches his buddy receiving CPR as they load him into the ambulance. What do you say to them? What do you want to say to them? What can you say to them?
I wish people could realize the physical, emotional and mental drain of lost sleep, missed meals, missed holidays, missed family celebrations and missed social activities because an emergency response work schedule requires me to work all days of the year.
I’d like to tell you about attending another funeral for another firefighter, another friend who has died far too early in life from occupational diseases like brain cancer or kidney cancer or esophageal cancer. Firefighters who worked thirty years to get a full pension then didn’t live thirty months to enjoy it.
I wish people could know the self satisfaction of helping save a life or save a house or just able to help someone in their time of worst need while creating order from total chaos.
I have always enjoyed being a participant in my life, not a spectator, so I am proud of the work I do and the people I do it with.
Some of my greatest memories have been sitting with a group of firefighters after a good working fire and melting into another round of stories and pints to wash them all down. Good men and women. Strong men and women. Caring men and women. Not so surprising, fun loving men and women.
Unless you have lived this kind of life, people may never truly understand or appreciate what firefighters do and what our job really means to us. I wish people could though.
So I don’t mind talking about it, if you don’t mind listening to it.
Here’s to firefighters, everywhere. Active, retired, professional or volunteer........... Cheers!
Captain Marty McNally
Mississauga Fire Fighters Association Local 1212
fire fighters are valued in our community
Because it does
matter… to us
Oshawa, ON – A mangled car wreck. A heart-stopping medical event. A collapsed
construction site. A downed power line. A toxic spill. We never know when it’s
our turn to face these or other life-threatening situations. That’s why every
second always counts.
It’s why people
in Oshawa believe in fire fighters’ tremendous value to our community. Fire fighters
take on an immense responsibility – the protection of our lives, our health,
our businesses and our personal property.
value doesn’t just start and end when there’s a crisis. Each day, fire fighters
are hard at work preventing emergencies from happening to us, improving our
community, and sharpening their skills so they can continue to act when our
lives and property are at risk.
Here in Oshawa,
we’ve experienced, first-hand, the benefits that fire fighters bring. Whether
it’s a fire at the Diamonds Grill Restaurant, a fire at McAsphalt, a high angle
rescue, a medical call or train derailment….Oshawa’s fire fighters are always
there to help.
“Every day, the
citizens of Oshawa thank fire fighters for putting everything on the line for
our community,” says Steve Barkwell, President, Oshawa Professional
Firefighters Association. “They tell us that they need fire fighters, because
it does matter to them.”
Oshawa’s fire fighters:
Do more than run into burning
buildings. They respond within minutes to medical emergencies, motor vehicle
collisions, construction accidents, hazardous material spills, damaged
high-voltage power lines, swimming pool and boating rescue situations and so
Make our homes, businesses and
communities safer. They inspect our buildings, remind us to use home appliances
safely, show us how life-safety equipment works, and teach us to plan for
Improve our community. They teach children and
the public how to stay safe, raise money with boot drives, and lend a hand to many
important community causes. Whether it’s raising over $50,000.00 for Lakeridge
Health, $15,000.00 for Camp Bucko or many of the other local charities, the
firefighters always give back.
Willingly risk their immediate
safety and their long-term health and well-being to protect us. Their families
stand behind them every step of the way, all the while knowing the risks and
accepting the sacrifices.
Regularly sharpen their
critical decision-making abilities as their jobs become more complex. When they
aren’t at the site of an emergency, fire fighters participate in vital
education and training, and they maintain the equipment that keeps us safe.
A full-time fire fighter works
42 hours per week. And when every second counts, fire fighters stay sharp and
are there for you 24 hours per day.
Steve Barkwell, President
Oshawa Professional Firefighters Assoc.