WFPD Public Information Officer Sam Henley #103 here!
Social media has made it far easier for the public to learn what we do. The public sees the traffic warnings, announcements for events and training, services available, and more.
One of the things the public sees more of now is not new by any means. It’s the effort of one first responder agency to help another. It’s the concept that we are a family and family comes first. As part of a fire family, I am fortunate to see this first-hand.
Whether it’s a call from a rural station that needs tires for a fire truck or an all-call that a fellow department is missing vital, life-saving equipment, the response of surrounding agencies and departments is the same: “We HAVE to help!”
This is because we KNOW the danger of not having your tools and equipment. We know that the difference between life and death can come down to one more piece of extrication equipment or one more hose on the scene.
Our department had the chance to help a fellow volunteer department just last week. The department is short on many things to bring their ISO rating up (“ISO stands for Insurance Services Office (ISO), which is an independent, for-profit organization. The ISO scores fire departments on how they are doing against its organization’s standards to determine property insurance costs.”). This rating is considered by some homeowner’s insurance companies, so it is considered highly important to some departments.
The department in question does not have a large tax base. What they do have are volunteer firefighters who not only respond 24/7 in their own district, but also run mutual aid for numerous other neighboring districts.
Sitting at our last fire meeting, I was mulling over the list of missing items for the Northwest Fire Protection District (NWFPD) delivered to me by Fire Chief Annette Sharp, when our Senior Advisor and former Fire Chief, Rob Lane, sat beside me and asked what I was doing. I explained the lack of vital items and he immediately jumped into action. He called Firefighter Cady Robinson over and the two rapidly ran down the master list, picking out items they knew there were spares of around the WFPD stations.
I watched, with my jaw dropped, as Rob took the list over to our Fire Chief, Tim Freeman, and explained the situation. Tim smiled and nodded, disappearing to the other building.
In minutes, I was told to bring my pickup into the bay. As I rolled in, firefighters flocked from everywhere and started loading the bed with 1 1/2″ and 2 1/2″ hoses. When they finally stopped (only because the bed was FULL!), I had 800 feet of 1 1/2″ hose and 1250 feet of 2 1/2″ hose to deliver. They also found two of their large, heavy tarps to send with me.
I was genuinely surprised and so touched by not only the generosity but also the “all-in” attitude of the entire team, that it brought tears to my eyes. In this time of such unhappiness, strife, and discontent in the world, it’s reassuring to know that good people are still out there. They are helping each other serve the residents and visitors under their protection.
I, for one, am proud to be a member of such a fantastic fire family.