There is no doubt that here in Chicago we love our firemen. We may have issues with law enforcement but I’ve always seen plenty of love for the firefighters.
I grew up a few blocks from Engine Company 115 in West Pullman, they were over on Peoria Street just north of 120th Street, and we’d walk past there with reverence.
And one of my late father’s friends was a Chicago Fireman, they called him “Red”, he passed some years ago, he’d sometimes come past the house coughing from smoke inhalation and all of us little boys looked up to him. Dude was tough as nails, even for a time served on the fire boat. Even the other grown men who congregated in my dad’s garage gave him extra respect.
Although in later years he had some issues and was no longer a fireman and he’d still come around but you could see people thought of differently when he was no longer a Chicago fireman.
It’s that big of a deal.
I went to the Fire Academy on De Koven Street as a high school student because I was interested in being a paramedic and I was in Boy Scouts and was checking out the Explorer program and looking into my career options. I can tell you going into that facility and talking with the people there and watching their program, it was an honor just to even try it out.
So on a day like today when a firefighter dies in the line of duty it’s front page news. We all feel sad because we know how important those brave first responders are.
It’s a career steeped in tradition and danger.
We honor those who choose to run in burning buildings when the rest of would be running out.
When I was in high school we had small fire at the house that generated a lot of smoke and ash, my dad handled the fire but we found soot around the house for months and we were awaken by the smoke alarm. It’s frightening to have that kind of wake up call.
At that time a Chicago Police officer lived two doors down and heard the commotion and came to check on us, it’s when you respect those that save lives for a living.
The very next year was the 1995 deadly heat wave and Chicago Firefighters saved my grandparents. My grandparents were in a hot little apartment on east 78th Street in Chatham and like so many others, the Chicago Fire Department answered the call and got their air conditioning working.
My grandfather was ill and started a downward health decline after that but a Chicago Fire Department ambulance drove him to several different hospitals that night (they were on bypass), until he was admitted at Mercy late that night.
I drove behind that ambulance wondering how things were going to turn out and those dedicated professionals did their best that night to make sure my grandfather would get the care he needed.
I never forgot that and how he lived another year due to their quick reaction and dedication.
So on this day when they lose one of their own, I am sad and will pray for the family of the fallen firefighter because of the extraordinary job these heroes do every day.
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Filed under: Chicago