The Times They Are A Changing

Do Firefighters Have To Watch Their Backs?

The following deviates from the normal editorial content of the Chief’s Opinion. Those of us at Engine House 87 are seeing a disturbing trend in society, a trend that is totally contradictory to norms and values of first responders and the fire service in general.

We are experiencing a society where truth is no longer considered a virtue. A society where manufactured news goes beyond being managed to fit a view point but one where news defies all logic and critical thinking.

The danger for the fire service and first responders is that civility too has apparently crashed and burned. Unlike the police, firefighters and EMTs have been rarely exposed to hostile actions while performing their property and life-saving tasks. That may begin to change.

I noted the other day that for security reasons a department is adding crew to responding units.

In my time, demonstrators were known for putting flowers in the barrels of the unloaded rifles being carried by national guardsmen. Compare that today with throwing bottles of urine at the police because they don’t have any opposing demonstrators to target.

Right, left or center demonstrations are taking on aspects more like riots. Like the rifleman at the congressional softball practice or the vehicle driver in Charlottesville, nut cases abound and first responders have to watch their backs.

While this “opinion” may read like the sky is falling, sometimes the pendulum has to swing radically to bring things back to some form of normal.

And what’s with the sudden negative interest in the symbols of our heritage. The US Flag, our national anthem, and historic statues are suddenly disrespected in the worst way. What is next, the Maltese Cross?

It is said that the Maltese Cross was an identifying insignia on the habit of the Knights of Malta to identify themselves from their enemies. Described as a white eight-pointed cross, the points are believed to represent the eight vows the knights had to observe:

  1. live in truth
  2. have faith
  3. repent of sins
  4. give proof of humility
  5. love justice
  6. be merciful
  7. be sincere and whole hearted
  8. endure persecution

Not certain how number eight applies but if, by leading by example, members of the fire service and first responders can influence society to observe most if not all the other seven, then the world as we know it may in some small way start to return to normalcy.

Bigotry and hate find no home in today’s fire service. Admittedly, if the truth be known, that has come as a result of an evolutionary process over generations. In theory, society, in general, has gone through the same process but without the benefit of the cement that binds the brotherhood (sisterhood) of first responders and the fire service, accusations of hate and bigotry are being used to separate us as a nation.

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Pete Adams
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