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Firefighters: Appreciating their service starts at home

When a fire shuts down traffic, we often have to walk across the street or drive around the block.

Meanwhile, the firefighters have to step over an obstacle or work around a hazard.

Fortunately, no one was hurt in Thursday’s destructive mobile home fire on Cascade (details on page A1). For hours, the thoroughfare was closed as firefighters needed room to operate and keep the public safe.

In addition to the smoke, flames and ever-present danger of explosion or fall, the firefighters had to deal with what was piled up around the house — jumbled debris, including a propane tank.

This is hardly unique; at past fires, everything from junked cars to kids’ toys have added to the hazards that volunteer and paid firefighters contend with when they answer a fire call.

These things add to our great respect for the men and women who don the “turnouts” and put their lives on the line whenever they respond to a fire, crash or other emergency.

They aid themselves through regular training and drills, and this week the Hood River fire crew also started a holistic nutrition class with the help of a local physicians clinic, as a way to improve their general fitness.

In 2007 the Oregon Legislature passed Joint Resolution 25 establishing Jan. 27 as Fire Service Appreciation Day in Oregon.

That date passed with little fanfare, other than that nutrition class in the recently expanded Ty Taylor Fire Station.

The declaration’s “whereas” list includes ... “the fire service members of Oregon have continuously supported efforts to elevate the standards and training of firefighters and have been instrumental in increasing the public’s awareness of methods of fire prevention and suppression” ... “firefighting is one of the most hazardous professions and requires extensive training, strength, endurance, courage and a selfless concern for the safety of the citizens of Oregon; and” and “the contributions and sacrifices of valiant fire service members often go unreported and are inadequately recognized by the public ...”

The declaration “encourages all citizens of Oregon to recognize and honor our fire service members for their efforts to keep our citizens safe from the ravages of fire.”

How best to recognize and honor them? Here are four practical ideas:

n Donate your quality items to the Pine Grove Fire Department annual auction, coming up March 2;

n Say “thank you” to the firefighters when they’re serving barbecue at Families in the Park and other events. They typically have time to talk when you see them in dark blue T-shirts.

n When a first aid or related class comes available, via the fire department or other agency, take advantage of the opportunity to learn these skills.

n Think “defensible space.” That’s the practice of clearing the area up to 30 feet around your home and other buildings, in case of grass or forest fire.

“Defensible space” also keeps propane tanks, trikes and other loose outdoor hazards out from underfoot as the firefighters provide their service.

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