Niagara Gazette

Bob Confer

July 29, 2013

CONFER: Be thankful for fire and EMS volunteers

Niagara Gazette — If there was one thing that Niagara County residents can take from the powerful storms that besieged the western end of the county on July 19th and left its infrastructure and residences crippled for anywhere from 12 to 36 hours, it is this: We are blessed to have so many people who care enough about our community that they would willingly give of their time and energy to protect its people and property.

At a time when so many others complained about the alleged misery placed upon them by Mother Nature’s fury (no televisions or computers! Gasp!), dozens of caring volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel did something about the natural disaster and its truly miserable outcomes. These men and women gave up their Friday night and entire Saturday to direct traffic, pump out basements, fight electrical fires, cut fallen trees, and tend to disabled people whose crucial medical systems went powerless.

They got little rest and when they did, they were spelled by other volunteers from the other side of the county who were unaffected by the storm. That’s how powerful their sense of brotherhood is. And, that’s how strong their senses of duty and community are.

They don’t do this for pay. They don’t do this for benefits. They don’t do this for glory. They give their time, free of charge, and risk their lives because they want to. They’re volunteers. They are only interested in the rewards of their efforts — that is, safe property and healthy people.

While the rest of our population went about their usual weekend business, the volunteers did everything within their power to make sure they were afforded that chance. In turn, the volunteers gave up their own weekends. Some skipped out on family picnics, sons’ baseball games, or a round of golf, all so others didn’t miss out on the same. To make that happen, they ensured that the roads might be open or safe to travel and homeowners’ basements might be cleared.

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