For 14 years I was chaplain of a volunteer fire department. It was a small town, so although I was not a trained firefighter, I had turnout gear and did what
I could do at fires. Mostly I served as Safety Officer on the scene, making sure firefighters put their gear on properly, and checking to see they didn’t become overheated when fighting a fire inside a structure. When there was a fire, accident, or disaster we heard the call on our pagers: “Call is for fire, rescue, and ambulance. Respond to 123 Such and Such a Street for….” The men and women would drive their cars to the station and respond to the emergency. Remember, when everybody else is running out of the building, fire fighters are running in!

The first to get to the station got to drive the truck. I lived close. I got there first quite often. Let me tell you: driving a fire truck 60 miles an hour on a two lane country road with lights and sirens is AN ABSOLUTE BLAST! Talk about fun! But being a firefighter is not all fun and games; they never know what awaits them on any given call. The accident might be a fender bender or it might call for several ambulances. The fire might be a chimney fire, or the entire second floor could be ablaze.

Firefighters know that the job can place them in harm’s way. They sign on knowing that beforehand. So do police and military. And as we are seeing, doctors, nurses, hospital workers are now in a great deal of danger. We have always appreciated the skill, dedication, and devotion of medical folks. Now more than ever we have come to appreciate their courage. All day every day they place themselves at risk of catching a virus that everyone is doing their best to avoid. Medical folks are aware that their jobs involve coming into contact with the sick, and accept that risk for the greater good.

But have a care for folks working in grocery stores. Never in a hundred years did they expect that they would face serious danger on the job. But now they are. We are grateful for their courage; we are grateful for the courage of those who knew ahead of time they would face danger. Bless them all; may they and their families stay safe.

Everyone in West Hartford got a tele-message from Mayor Shari Cantor asking us to show our appreciation for the folks who serve so bravely by banging on pots and pans for two minutes Friday evening at 7:00. Let’s make some NOISE!