Most of us probably don’t give it much thought when we hear the sirens and see a fire engine roar past. It’s just part of the landscape; part of the everyday hustle and bustle of life in the city.

Yet multiple times a day, and day after day, local firefighters are responding swiftly and professionally to any number of emergency calls.

During the July 13-14 weekend, for just one example, Forest Grove Fire & Rescue crews responded to several accidents on area roads, one of which claimed the life of a 49-year-old motorist from West Linn. Then, on the morning of July 15, crews from Forest Grove responded to another incident in which a rolling log struck a logger and broke both of his legs, necessitating a helicopter rescue from a remote ravine. While awaiting the helicopter, a paramedic-in-training with Forest Grove Fire & Rescue treated the injured man.

In Hillsboro, meanwhile, approximately 100 firefighters take turns being on-call around the clock at five different fire stations. Those on duty are well aware that an alarm can sound at any moment, sending them racing out to handle a call that, in the words of one Hillsboro firefighter, can range from “a paper cut to an incident where a person doesn’t make it.”

Firefighters manning stations around our area may get 10 or more emergency calls in a given 24-hour shift, and uncertainty is always the order of the day. Fires, car wrecks, heart attacks, chemical spills, false alarms — the men and women who have dedicated themselves to protecting us from a variety of hazards see it all on a regular basis, and, from everything we’ve observed, they handle their work in an extremely professional manner.

Sometimes we’ll see them in their fire stations, cleaning and maintaining equipment, making sure fire hoses or other critical pieces of equipment are ready to go, or engaging in training exercises.

No one is forced to become a firefighter or a paramedic. Those who sign up to do so go through grueling training regimens because they are motivated to help their fellow citizens get through crises. We owe them a lot.

Firefighters, whose work we might sometimes take for granted, are among the very best our society has to offer. And as with law enforcement officers, the dangers they face are very real.

That unpleasant reality was drilled home earlier this summer in Arizona. On June 30, firefighters battling a wildfire there were caught in an unexpected situation when the winds changed suddenly and dramatically, costing all 19 people their lives as they toiled to save homes in the area.

Conditions at a fire scene, whether a wildfire, a house fire or a fire in an office building, are unpredictable, and what seems at first to be a “routine” call (there really is no such thing) can suddenly turn deadly.

And in a completely different example of how our firefighters are helping to protect our communities, just last week we learned that two of the Hillsboro Fire Department’s stations were honored for their recycling efforts. This points out even more clearly that our firefighters are not only heroes on many levels, they are also setting a great example in efforts to take care of our planet.

For all of these reasons, we want to express our appreciation and admiration to firefighters all around the area for the jobs they are doing every day to save lives and to prevent a variety of calamities from causing even more damage.

We want our firefighters to know: we value your service more than we can ever express. Thank you.

Contract Publishing

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