September 2012 - A conversation with a firefighter amidst misguided politics

By Pastor Gary Cortese, Chaplain – Byron Fire District

I was privileged to have had a revealing conversation with a career firefighter in another state recently that needs to be told from coast to coast as our culture and economy continue to change.
This firefighter, I’ll call him “Scotty,” had been seriously injured on the job. I admired his passion and zeal for the job of fighting fires and saving lives. He was committed to serving the people of his community but expressed great concern over the way fire protection was being provided to the citizens.
Significant budget cuts had resulted in the closing of some fire stations throughout that city and the subsequent downsizing and restructuring of manpower. Asking Scotty how this had affected him I wasn’t quite prepared for what he explained next. He was angry and concerned.
You see, when Scotty’s Engine is called out to a fire, the citizens can expect at least a one-man Engine Company to respond which will be backed up by an all-volunteer company. What exactly does this mean? Here’s how Scotty explained it to me, when the alarm sounds, “I get dressed, jump into the driver’s seat; drive to the address, get out, chock the wheels and do what I have to do next.” Do you understand what this means? It means that when a citizen calls for help because his house is on fire he will see the first arriving unit and can take comfort knowing that a single fire fighter has just arrived.
Yes, Volunteer Companies will come, they too are highly trained professionals and are just as committed but response time is greatly increased. Scotty isn’t going in to search for victims all by himself and he shouldn’t operate a charged hose without help either. Here’s what bothered me most, Scotty said another firefighter would probably have to be killed in the line of duty before things change for the better. His closing remark was that it wouldn’t be his problem for much longer because he was going to retire soon even though he loved his job – his wife couldn’t take the stress anymore. The politics and misguided endeavors of key people had done them both in.
Folks, we can’t help that we live in a world with misplaced values. We make professional athletes rich and famous but keep our public servants at poverty level. We idolize promiscuous heathens who make us laugh and keep us entertained but threaten our educators with lawsuits for esteeming Christian ideals. We cannot allow money and ambition, agendas and programs, paybacks and payouts compromise the protection we need and deserve.
I don’t know if our citizens here in the Byron community know how blessed we are with the Police and Fire protection we enjoy. Everything and anything can erode over time but thank God you can rest easy tonight because our Guardians are vigilant, well staffed, expertly trained and well equipped! Let’s make sure it stays that way.

Comments can be sent to

Return to Chaplain Corner