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We Need To Really Understand What Firefighters Really Are

Scott Barbour, Getty Images

My son Mark Jr., like all little boys, has dreams of what he wants to be when he grows up. I remember very well myself being little once and seeing all the fascinations around me in the big world. And how I wanted to do what my dad was doing, or be like the man I saw running an earth mover on the road construction job or maybe be a detective like the one on TV.

Our son, at only 3 years old, is totally interested with being a firefighter. I know this is not the first little boy that dreamed of growing up and becoming a fireman, it’s been happening for many generations. But he’s serious about it. At least as serious as a child this age can be.

He talks about firefighters all the time. He plays with toy fire trucks. By the way he has a new one picked out at a local store that carries Tonka, that he’s begging me to buy for him. And it’s a nice one. As in 60 bucks nice!

He watches an educational DVD that we got for him that tells all about firefighters. If there’s a sound of a siren outside you better get out of the way because little Mark will be darting to the window to see if a fire truck is passing by.

He has also confronted me with many questions that I have had a hard time answering. One example would be, “How come some fire trucks are red and others are yellow”?

I figured it was time to take my son to a real life fire station and meet a hero or two in person and maybe even sit in a fire truck. With excitement that I can’t describe on his face, we climbed into dad’s car and along with my wife Lorlane and headed for the fire station at 37th and Minnesota in Sioux Falls. The excitement got even more intensified as just as we pulled in the parking lot, the biggest of all ladder trucks came roaring out of an open door responding to a call.

Once inside, we were openly welcomed by “Firefighter Kyle”. And let me tell you, we got the grand tour. My son’s eyes were never bigger and the look on his face was priceless as he sat in a truck, touched a fireman’s helmet and boots, got instructions on how the water hoses attached to water outlets and even had a dream fulfilled by getting to hold an axe in his hands.

The end result of this memorable day was a satisfied little mind. But there was a bonus to all of this that came without expecting it. Dad and mom left with a whole new appreciation of what a fireman really is.

Firefighter Kyle told us all about his pride of getting on the Sioux Falls Fire Department. To my surprise I learned that he waited 12 years to get hired. He was one of only five to get the job out of a class of over five hundred applicants. He stayed focused on being what he wanted to be thru rigorous training and tests.

We did a related story recently with Sioux Falls Fire Marshall Dean Lanier.

The next time you see a fireman in uniform, stop for a moment and realize what kind of a hero you’re looking at. One who’s willing to risk his life for you at the drop of a hat without even knowing you. He does this because it’s his job. A job that he asked for and worked hard to get.

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