Firefighters in Canada may be full-time or volunteer. They may be your neighbour, and live just down the block or road from you.
You may personally know firefighters, and some may be friends or relatives of yours.
My wife has two cousins who are career firefighters. One is a firefighter with the City of Vancouver and the other is with the City of Surrey.
Being a volunteer firefighter myself since the 1980s, I’ve had the honour of meeting many firefighters from across Canada and the United States.
One full-time firefighter—whom I know—started his firefighting career first as a volunteer in the 1980s. Over the years, he has experienced many challenging fires, as well as many fatal home fires.
Not having working smoke alarms was a contributing factor in all the fatal home fires he attended.
As a volunteer firefighter, he was employed with the local district school board of education as a school bus driver and maintenance technician. He had his regular bus route, and picked up and dropped off the same children each and every school day.
On one such school day (10 days before Christmas), he got out of bed and proceeded to get dressed appropriately before heading out of his house.
He proceeded to a house where he routinely picked up the same child week after week to take him safely to and from school.
However, on this school day, he showed up to the house earlier than usual. It was extremely cold and dark in the early-morning hours. And instead of pulling up to the house with his bus, he arrived in his own personal vehicle.
In less than a minute, he approached the back of house. In fact, he was not alone, as many others were there with him—dressed as he was dressed, doing what he was doing, fighting what he was fighting, hoping what he was hoping, as well as praying as he was praying.
On this school day, on this morning, he wasn’t a bus driver . . . he was a firefighter responding to the child’s house, which was on fire.
After the fire was extinguished, after everything possible was done, the firefighter finally left the scene hours later to go home to get ready for work.
But on this school day, the firefighter, who was the bus driver, would never again come to the house, which had just burned, to pick up the child.
On this school day, on this morning, the child, as well as two other people, lost their lives to the fire.
We, as Canadians, need to take responsibility for our health and safety now—and take care of what we have!
Tyler J. Moffitt is a volunteer firefighter and emergency responder, as well as a continuous improvement advocate.
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