OPINION COLUMNS

All Around Wise: Volunteer firefighters keep weathering conditions

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, March 16, 2019
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In 20 years as a scribe, I’ve come to realize that breaking news rarely, if ever, happens when it’s sunny and 70.

Fires usually happen when it’s bone-chilling cold or in the searing heat. Wrecks occur when there’s some form of precipitation.

Being on call Wednesday morning, I knew storms were expected to roll through Wonderful Wise. As the newsroom’s certified weather nerd after attending my second Skywarn class, I admit I reach a level of excitement just below Pete Delkus when clouds move in.

But in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday when the scanner went off just after 4 a.m. for a tractor-trailer accident, I didn’t exactly jump out of bed as the wind howled and rain pounded outside my window. A few minutes later when a structure fire was toned out in Boyd, there was no choice but to get out the door.

It didn’t take long for me to look like a drowned rat, shivering in the rain, while taking pictures. Firefighters methodically and deliberately worked to extinguish the fire and hit any hot spots, while also trying to salvage as much of the home as possible.

After several minutes, I got an opportunity to visit with Boyd Fire Chief Chris Caster, who gave me some preliminary information. I was soon on my way to the warm, dry car and eventually the office to do a complete weather roundup.

With the story completed in time for Update, I was on the way back home to change and take a warm shower.

On the way back to the office more than an hour later, I heard the first fire unit clear the scene of the fire. I then started thinking about my brief discussion with Caster about the weather they’ve recently encountered in a busy few weeks. They nearly froze battling a fire in Aurora last week and another time this week went out in the middle of the night to battle a vehicle fire near Springtown. And here they were in the pre-dawn hours in a steady cold rain, battling another fire. Call after call, these volunteers keep showing up no matter the conditions. Thankfully they do. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 55 percent of active firefighting personnel is made up of volunteers. In Texas, 71.5 percent of departments are volunteer.

Thinking of these volunteers and their hard and risky work at all hours, I suddenly didn’t feel too sorry for myself about getting a little wet during Wednesday’s storm. But I can still hope for sunny and warmer weather next time I see them.

Richard Greene is the editor of the Wise County Messenger.

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