City of Phoenix Public Information Office - News Clippings- September, 2013
The Republic | azcentral.com
Technically, summer is not over until September 20th, but this year it seems the summer will never end. When I look back on the past several months, it’s a bit of a blur. We’ve had the experiences that some communities don’t see in a lifetime. In June, we had the Yarnell Hill Fire and the loss of 19 Granite Mountain Hot Shots. Everything that has happened to the fire service and to the State of Arizona would be overwhelming if not for the support of this community and the entire state.
I reflect back and consider that in April, nine firefighters and an emergency medical responder were killed when an explosion in Texas occurred. In May, the Houston Fire Department lost four firefighters when the roof of a burning building collapsed. Also in May, we lost one of our very own, Firefighter Brad Harper, and a month later, the firefighters at Yarnell Hill. All tolled, there have been 77 firefighter fatalities so far this year. This summer has been a deadly one for the fire service.
Some may say the first responders were just doing their jobs – what they are paid to do. They understand how dangerous the job is when they take the oath and were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their friends and neighbors and members of the community. I think sometimes things get lost in a political environment and you can lose sight of the human suffering that goes along with those loses. There is really no closure to these tragic events, because with each one of those lost individuals comes the family – many times children, parents and loved ones – that will never recover from that loss.
Earlier this week we remembered September 11th and the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I had the opportunity to respond to New York four days after the attacks and witnessed the rescue efforts that were still ongoing and later included our Urban Search and Rescue Team. It helps when people pull together and donate their time, energy, and emotional support. We have witnessed that through all of these tragedies. But at the end of the day, losing a loved one, a parent, a son or daughter takes a toll for a lifetime. Here in Phoenix, we have made a commitment that we will never forget the members of our department that have made the ultimate sacrifice, the firefighters and law enforcement officers and all who perished on 9-11 and any first responder who dies in the line of duty. Police, fire, and emergency medical responders should be remembered for as long as we possibly can, and then pass that memory on to our children.
It would be my hope that the fire service, as a whole, and the Phoenix Fire Department in particular, will grow and learn from these experiences. As hard as it may be, if you don’t take away some life lesson, some bit of information or knowledge that can keep firefighters safe, then you lose whatever betterment opportunity there is in any tragedy. I hope that we are able to pass on the legacy of remembering those who lost their lives as well as the lessons learned to keep the next generation of firefighters safer.
God bless all first responders for the work they do day in and day out. Their commitment and the commitment of their families and loved ones go beyond what any individual can imagine.
Send comments to Bob Khan at email@example.com or
call (602) 26-CHIEF.
|Previous Columns from The Arizona Republic|