Tag Archives: Fire Service

Presidential Reflections on what we do. (She hacked me)

 

It has taken me a little longer than others to get my thoughts together to comment on the events in Westerlo yesterday morning. Spoiler alert **** Long post ahead. Cliff notes version **** I am in awe of our volunteer first responders and am so grateful for the caring community to which I belong.

First, let me say that I’ve been a member of Westerlo Volunteer Fire Company for 5 years. When I joined here I was issued a pager so I could hear the calls and know what was going on and if the Auxiliary needed to respond. Prior to moving up here I was at Thomas Corners Fire in Scotia. Their call volume was much higher and the Auxiliary was called if needed. Actually I think most of the wives would just go to the station when their husbands went on a big call. I didn’t get a lot of opportunity to help out there.

Now, and keep in mind that I live 5 houses from the station, I am Westerlo Fire’s Company President, and date a firefighter, the tones going out take on a whole different meaning. Still, when the alarm sounds in the middle of the night, my instinct is to say a prayer for all those that are helping or are needing help then roll over and go back to sleep. 1:30 Monday morning, that was almost what happened. The alarm had stopped before I realized that “Oh shoot! That’s US! And I ran down the stairs for the pager to see what was happening.

STRUCTURE FIRE! Well, sometimes a passerby sees flames that are in a burnpit that’s close to the house and panics. Maybe that’s all it is. Quickly that theory was dispelled by listening to the radio traffic. THIS WAS REAL! THIS WAS BAD!

Still, you have the facts. You know the address and it’s a fire. You know people are injured but you don’t know how badly. You don’t know whose house it is. You don’t know how many of your firefighters are making the call. You don’t know if you are going to be able to get water once you get there.

Being in the Auxiliary and not needed at the scene right away I had the luxury of being able to get dressed, let Bailey out, and pull myself together for whatever lay ahead. Not so for the Firefighters and EMS personnel. They jumped out of their warm beds, threw on whatever and raced to the station to don their gear, load up and rush into the face of danger. I could barely operate the coffee pot at the hall an hour after the tones went out, but these folks were on the scene and actively trying to fight this massive fire within just a few minutes.

We packed up the coolers and headed to the scene with drinks and snacks for all about an hour into the event, then served breakfast at about 6. There were so many people there. We are lucky to have such great mutual aid companies that came in to help. We had assistance from East Durham Fire, Freehold Fire, Greenville Fire and Greenville Rescue Squad, Medusa Fire, Medway-Grapeville Fire, Rensselaerville Fire, Westerlo Rescue Squad, Albany County Fire Investigators, Paramedics and Sheriffs. The scene remained active for over 12 hours. It was amazing to see everyone work together.

The home belongs long-time residents of Westerlo. All were treated at the scene, transported to Albany Med and then transferred to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse for their burns and breathing problems. Please say a prayer for them that they recover quickly and fully.

The family has great neighbors. The family got into their car and drove down the street to a neighbors house in the middle of the night, banged on their door and asked them to call 911. They waited there for help to arrive. Another neighbor found their St. Bernard and one is caring for him while his family is away. Many people stopped by to see what they could be doing to help the family and a fund has been set up at the National Bank of Coxsackie to assist them.

There is one group of unsung heroes that I don’t often see recognized. Thank you to all the employers who graciously allow your staff to leave during work hours or take time off to help their neighbors. We had a number of people who went in to work late or never made it at all because of the fire. We are so fortunate here in Westerlo with Hannay Reels being here. We have always had a number of members that work there and they have been wonderful in supporting our efforts. I am so grateful for them and for all the employers who understand the need for these volunteers in our community.

I am so proud of our Fire Company and want to thank you for a job well done. I am so glad that you all returned home safely. Thank you to all our mutual aid companies that came to our scene and those that may have been on standby for those companies. Oh, and thank you to Albany County Fire Control for being so calm and organized. I don’t know who was on yesterday but he pretty much rocks in my book.

For all those who are not in the Fire/EMS business, please take a moment to thank a First Responder when you can.

And don’t forget that its EMS Week!

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Today We Stand for Him

If you are unable to attend the services today for Lieutenant DeVoe you can watch via the following link.   abc27 I’m not sure of how much of the procession, etc. they will be covering but they will cover the Noon service.

I can’t be in Harrisburg today but I am with the Brotherhood and Fire Wife Sisterhood in Spirit.

We Stand with You

 

We Stand with You

Last night the Brotherhood lost one of their own.  Lt. Dennis DeVoe was loved by many, but none loved him as much as his wife Amy and their children.  This week the Brotherhood lost other members.  Captain Bill Dowling from Houston and others answered their final alarm.  While I prayed for those families, for their Brothers, I never felt the grief that I did last night when Harrisburg issued their formal statement.

I’ve never had a personal connection with a loss until last night.   I never met Denny, but I met, love and will forever call her Sister, his beautiful wife Amy.  Her smile lights up a room and a heart.

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I met Amy through the Firefighter Wife Sisterhood, the wives part of 24/7 Commitment.  I’ve written about the Sisterhood, the impact it has had on my life and my marriage.  I’ve written about the fact I know the Sisterhood will have my back if anything ever happens to my husband.  My heart knows this, my head knows this.  My heart hoped it would never happen to one of our own.  Yesterday, the group of Fire Wives that attended the Girls Getaway in Windham messaged, loved and prayed.  We banded together as Fire Wives need to when one of our own is hurting.  Our arms surrounded her from miles away hoping that she felt our love and strength.

Yesterday, last night and this morning reminds me that the Sisterhood is the backbone behind the Brotherhood.  There is no tougher job in the Fire Service, than that of the Fire Wife.  Together we unite to hold one of our own so that she can find the strength to carry on.

Amy, you are loved, you are supported,  you will forever be in my heart and on my mind.  My Sisters, your strength, your love and your grief have showed the Commitment we have to our own through all that the Fire Service throws at us.

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Firefighterwife.com : Why our Fire Families need it.

Evening Reflections on the Sisterhood

Friendship Forged in Fire

Last night I was poking around on Facebook and I came across a wedding album that a Firefighter Wife Sisterhood member had posted.  This wedding album was special.  Why?  It is special because I have never personally met this amazing lady.  I’ve never met her but she’s my Sister.  And it’s special because it is a tribute to a love many can only hope for.

I commented on her album and in return I got this amazing message in return.  Her message was heartfelt and completely not expected.  But in reading it, I realized I had made a friendship for life.  Even if we never meet in person, we have made a Friendship Forged in Fire that will last a lifetime.

The Fire Service is a life style that can  make or break you.  One thing I have discovered is it helps to have an amazing group of women behind you who encourage you, support you and remind you that they have been there, they understand and they have your back.

As we chatted via messenger she asked me if she could use my words with her album.  I absolutely agreed.  For many reasons.  First I was honored, she truly is an amazing woman, secondly, I agreed because I’m one hundred percent behind encouraging Fire Marriages, families and Sisterhood.

The Sisterhood has given me a handful of women who I am very happy to have as a guide through my Marriage Journey. This particular woman’s story is beautiful and when a mutual friend shared it I cried, happy tears.  When I wrote that as a comment on her album, she replied, “oh my goodness. I just read your amazing comment. I must say I am mind blown. What you said is one of the most powerful and generous things anyone has ever said to me. I took a few minutes before starting to type this- because I was totally speechless. What a profound and kind thing to say. Thank you seems to fall short, but these are the only words I have. Sincerely- thank you. I am equally as grateful to have you in my marriage journey..my life journey.”

I thought about it and I thought about what Firefighter Wife has brought to my life.  I replied,  “The Sisterhood has brought some amazing women into my life. Those women have some equally amazing stories of how they got where they are. And a handful of those women and their stories have touched me more profoundly then others. You are one of them. Your words continuously show that deep and abiding love you have not only for your husband but for life. Thank you for sharing your journey so that others may be inspired. I hope I do the same for other Fire Wives as my Sisters do for me.”

I have another Sister often tell me she didn’t think it would be possible to have that connection with someone you have never met. I thought so as well. But I see proof everyday in the connections I have made through the Sisterhood.

Her reply: There is much to be learned from those who are willing to share their gifts of love. No doubt- It is risky to expose our vulnerable spots. We put ourselves out there. It could hurt! We may be judged and shunned by some who may not understand this drive. However- the connections that we make with the ones who will embrace this risky behavior, those who share the desire to grow and learn from each other- they will reflect and perpetuate the action of love. You demonstrate it- emulate it- create it and share it. You, Lisa– are a leader and a risk taker, too. Thank you for being an inspirer of others. Through what you have shared within our sisterhood (Firefighter Wife) you have inspired me to continue to have conversations about the importance of behavioral health, talk about the importance of keeping our (men’s) gear clean- and not being afraid to challenge others to carry on the discussion. Thank you for your courage and bravery; and for your friendship, forged in fire.

The video above was recorded last summer as I spoke to a group of Firefighters about Firefighter Wife and the Sisterhood.  I have forged friendships here that will last a lifetime, even if we never meet in person.  They are women of my heart who are committed to the fire service, their firefighters, their families.  These are the women who will continue to help me grow in my marriage, as a mother and as a person.

One of my first blogs was my story and how I got to be a Fire Wife. And how much I HATED being a Fire Wife. Not really being a Fire WIFE, just hating the fire service.  Thankfully, with the help of a great group of women, an amazing leader (Lori Mercer) and some inner reflection, I grew to love my husband’s other love: the Fire Service.

Fast forward a few years to the summer of 2014.  In August of 2014 I remember being at the station and asking our Chief if I could have a brief conversation with him. I had decided to take Scene Support Operations (intro level course to being certifiable). Our Chief was an instructor and I wanted to take the class with him. It just so happened…… he was teaching it in September at a neighboring District. Well…. I wasn’t getting out of it now.  I look back and ask myself, “What was I thinking?”

I was issued bunkers, gloves, helmet (it’s red, not black, but it’s a helmet) and any other piece of PPE that would keep me safe at an incident. Thank God Andy was on board with this. That Fire Wife: yeah, she made her husband (Assistant Chief) take the intro level class with her. That’s right, an Assistant Chief in a class for probies. Actually, I didn’t make him take it. He offered as soon as he knew it was what I really wanted to do. I wanted to do it for so many reasons: personal satisfaction, the drive to succeed, the need to help others.

At the same time I decided to take Scene Support Operations, one of our Jr. members was taking Firefighter I. This was the perfect training opportunity for both of us. We drilled on ladders, knots, Donning and Doffing. He helped me more than I helped him but it was great having someone working on some of the same skills as I was at the same time. Then, another Jr. Firefighter decided she was going to take Scene Support Operations with me. She drilled with us.  We worked at the skills we would need to pass our practical exam.  Now the Chief calls us the Bobbsey Twins.  I enjoy teaming up with Chris and Sarah.  Together we strive to improve our skills, learn as much as we can and be a helpful part of an awesome team.

That's me at the top of that ladder!

That’s me at the top of that ladder!

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The class was 2 nights a week for 2 weeks and 1 all day Saturday.  I have to say the classroom part was not nearly as exciting (sorry Chief) as the hands on.  The practical (an all day Saturday event) was awesome.  I learned so much from our Instructors.  I learned I can do a leg lock on a ladder (now that’s just crazy in today’s world with harnesses, but I learned how to do it), I learned more about an SCBA then I had learned training with Chris.  I learned how to pack hose, I learned how to use a fire extinguisher (that probably sounds odd but there is a special way to do it).  My personal best, walking on the roof of a building.  I was scared of heights (still not my most favorite thing) but now I know I can conquer that and climb the ladder to the roof.  But best of all, I was able to get on a hose line.  That won my heart.  Having the feeling of that charged line in your hand, knowing you have an awesome person behind you.  That was the icing on the cake.  Those are the moments I realized I had made the right decision and that I could do this.

Well, my brain said I could do this.  My body said, “What in the good Lord’s name are you doing girl?  You are 40 years old.  You do this crap when you are 25-30 not 40.  Your knees can’t take the pain you are inflicting on them.  Stop this girl before you hurt yourself.”  I laughed at my body and said, “this is my  goal, you are not getting in my way.”  But I can say Scene Support kicked my butt in a good way.  I’ve continued to get healthier by losing weight and becoming committed to a healthy body.

I accomplished my goal.  I got my certificate.  So did Sarah.  I’m proud of the hard work she put into that class.  She worked her butt off.  Chris he passed Firefighter I.  The smile on his face when my firefighter handed him his certificate and black helmet will never be forgotten.  We all earned those certs.

My training partner.

My training partner.

I DID IT!

I DID IT!

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So…. yeah me!!!  I was certifiably a Firefighter now.  One small teensy problem.  Andy and I never discussed how we would handle this new aspect of our relationship.   Remember that Type A personality thing I mentioned before?  How well do you think I like taking orders?  Yeah…. not so much.   Add to that those orders are coming from my husband no less.  Well….. we were right back to the screaming matches.  At least we kept it at home and not at incidents.  This was a whole new level in our marriage.  I think we have come to a mutual agreement.  It’s still hard for me to remember that at the Station or at an incident, he’s my (gulp) Superior Officer.  NOT my husband.  That’s difficult.  But I think we are getting better at it.  He’s a great training partner.  I enjoy our cardio walks and work out sessions.  He pushes me to be the best that I can.

Love of My Life.  He's now officially, MY Assistant Chief.

Love of My Life. He’s now officially, MY Assistant Chief.

 

From the Children: Thoughts from the Assistant Chiefs Daughter

Katie at the stationIt’s about strengthening families and marriages.  A big part of every firefighter’s life is his or her family.  Our daughter loves to write and she loves, loves, loves her Daddy.  She asked me if she could write something for my blog about her thoughts on being a fire child.  I was surprised but readily agreed.  So now, here is my guest blogger, Katie:

Whenever the tones go out I am sad because that means my Daddy has to leave!  But I am also proud that my Firefighter Daddy is going out to save someone’s life.  My Mommy helps out if there is a really bad call.  My Mommy goes to the fire house to help give out food and drinks to the Firefighters.  I always try to understand whenever my Mommy or Daddy have to go out because they have jobs to do as Assistant Chief and Treasurer of the Fire Company.  By: Katie

Our kids spend quite a bit of time at the Fire House.  Whether they go to drill nights, stop at the office to help Mommy pay bills or respond to calls on the way home from dinner, we are raising our next generation of Firefighters.  I love seeing the love for their Daddy and his Brother’s shine on their faces whenever we are at the fire house.  They light up when they have the opportunity to tell their friends that their Daddy is a Firefighter.905726_4668845685748_814322427_o

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How I Became A Fire Wife and the Aftermath

May 2, 1998 I officially became Mrs. Andrew Joslin. One of the most memorable days of my life. I married my soul mate, my best friend, the love of my life. We started dating August 18, 1992. During all of the time in between I never knew he had aspirations of being a firefighter. In fact, I never knew that until a few years later when it came up in conversation at a visit with family. That family will remain unnamed but they are the closest thing we have to a Brother and Sister and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They are both firefighters and strongly encouraged Andy to follow in their footsteps. Me, I dug my heels in and said, “absolutely not!” Andy was a busy man who worked late hours as Assistant Director of Finance, he was finishing up his MBA and I wanted every extra hour he had spent with me. So, I used the excuse that he couldn’t join the Fire Company until he graduated.

Well….. that gained me a little time. But not much. Soon that dreaded day arrived (for the worried wife at least). He graduated with his MBA and now, there were no more excuses. It was BT (Before Twins) so I couldn’t say I needed his help with the kids. He was still busy at work but with no school he was home at decent hours so most nights of the week we were home together. But to his credit he never brought up the subject. I did….

I remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when I looked at him and said, “So when are you joining?” We were walking through the infield at the Altamont Fair. To call the expression on his face stunned would be a mild understatement. He tried to change the subject by kindly saying, “I don’t really think this is the place to discuss this.” I continued. I explained that he had finally graduated and that if it was what he really wanted to do I wouldn’t stand in his way. Go ahead, I said.

So he did. He joined soon after and I was officially a Fire Wife. We were able to avoid most of the pressures of training during the beginning of his tenure. They were in the process of revamping the training system and he was waiting for Firefighter I to be offered. So it was drills, calls, meetings. Nothing “major.” Or so I thought. I’ll simply say that I soon learned that the love of my life was now called Sparky at the station. And I didn’t learn it from him. At the time I was not a supportive Fire Wife so I not so gently reminded him that going forward he had better make sure I learned these things from him, not from someone at the station. To this day he has lived up to that promise.

Next on the list: Firefighter I. The revamped Firefighter I. By revamping it they made it 3 nights a week and a full day on Saturday. That became the point at which I began to hate the Fire Service. One of the major parts of that was being home with 6 month old twins when he started the class. Do you have any idea what it’s like to suddenly become the single parent of infant twins while your husband is with his other “love?” Jealousy played a huge part in fueling that hate. As did resentment. I was jealous of the time it took away from me, the kids, our home, etc. I resented everything the Fire Service stood for.

Our daughter had 2 surgeries by the time she was 9 months old. The most major of those occurred while he was finishing Firefighter I. I spent 24 hours a day with her at the hospital while he worked and went to class. She “missed” his graduation as she was in the hospital. My dear friend and my parents had to come sit with her while our Son and I attended his graduation ceremony.

That resentment grew with each drill, each meeting, each training, each call. Every time he walked out the door I resented the Fire House a little more. I was still a Stay-At-Home Mom. That meant I was with my kids 24/7. He worked late, he went to the fire house, I was still that single parent. When did I get the break? His break was the Fire House. Mine, a bath and a glass of wine if I was lucky. Little did I know I was living the definition of Fire Strong (I’ll talk about Fire Strong in more blogs to come). It’s a Sisterhood thing.

Looking back on the early days of his fire tenure I realize how lucky we were to not fall into the trap so many other fire marriages do. We are still together. We love each other more today than we did yesterday. But it was a struggle. If I only had http://www.Firefighterwife.com back then. So many arguments, so many shouting matches could have been avoided. But I didn’t. You see the Sisterhood didn’t become official until a year ago this weekend. In fact the Sisterhood just had the discussion on why the Fire Wife Sisterhood is worth the $8.00/month or the $60/year. Just ask Andy. He’ll tell you in a second how important Firefighter Wife is for fire marriages. That’s where I learned “My Heart Belongs to a Hero.”

Luckily the “Aftermath” has a happy ending.

Joslin family pic