Communities across Canada are recognizing Fire Prevention Week and sometimes between the statistics, cut and paste fire drills and other safety messages, what is lost is the exact sacrifice both volunteers and their employers give in the fight against fires and other emergencies like car accidents.
First with the employers, especially in today’s tough economy. Productivity is lost when a volunteer firefighter is pulled away from their place of employment.
With margins already being thin in today’s sluggish economy in Alberta, those margins can further be taxed when employees are unable to do their job, being pulled away to tend to an emergency.
Without the care and understanding of employers, a volunteer fire service could not even exist.
That would mean a full-time paid service, and needless to say everyone would be seeing that affect on their property tax bills if that became a reality.
Then there is the sacrifice of the volunteers themselves, not only with the firefighter, but their families as well.
Emergencies do not simply wait for when times are convenient. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner, weddings, funerals — several huge events in one’s life can be missed when a volunteer firefighter has their call to duty.
That takes a very understanding and supportive family to allow firefighters to do their duty.
Apart from the emotional strain a firefighter’s duties may have on a family unit, there are the physical and mental strains as well.
Firefighters view tragedy numerous times in a calendar year. A child who perishes in a car accident will never see another birthday again.
Recently, there is a family that has to start over from scratch after losing their home to fire in Barnwell. There were the family members to console of the drowning victim at the M.D. of Taber Park last month.
Firefighters have to be strong for others while trying to find strength within themselves in all the tragedy that goes on around them.
A firefighter wears many hats, be it husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, brother, sister, father, mother, counsellor, psychologist or simply being a shoulder to lean on.
But especially in small rural areas that do not have huge tax revenues to lean on, if these firefighters did not make these sacrifices, who would?
The Times tips their hat to our volunteer firefighters both in the Town of Taber and the emerging M.D. of Taber department and their understanding families and employers.
Thank you now, not just during Fire Prevention Week, but every week, for the sacrifices you all make to make our community better.