The only reward for toiling over this column month after month is feedback from you, the readers. I have to say feedback is very scarce! I am starving for it. So when it comes, good or bad, it is really appreciated. This month I would like to share a very motivating note from the Fire Chief of North Bangor, NY.
October 2005 editions of this column carried a suggestion to observe Firefighters Memorial Day on Thursday of Fire Prevention Week this year. Wisconsin has been observing this tradition for more than a decade.
Bangor Volunteer Fire & EMS successfully adopted this tradition in 2005. Here is Chief St. Hilaire’s report:
Dear Mr. Busico:
I am the Chief of the Bangor Volunteer Fire & EMS in North Bangor, NY. We are located about 10 minutes from the Canadian Border.
I am writing to let you know that we saw your article in the newspaper and decided to give it a try.
We planned the event to run from Monday night until Thursday night, ending in the memorial service and silent night parade. We managed to get it in the local newspaper and several people showed up at the station the day of the ceremony. We had our local priest perform the memorial prayer service followed by the silent night parade.
The weather was terrible here that night, it was raining very hard. Despite the weather, there were some people waiting in their cars along the parade route flashing their lights at us. Other people were out in the rain with flashlights. One elderly woman even had her grandchildren come to her house to see us! After we passed her home, she followed us to the station to tell us what a very good idea it was.
If you have any ideas to add for next year please email me and we will be sure to try them. Thanks for the idea! Our department did have a member who died in the line of duty in 1958, which made it hit home a little more for some of the older members.
Again, many thanks,
Ron St. Hilaire
Chief Bangor Vol. Fire & EMS
This is the kind of report we need to share across our profession. As I said in October, consider starting a Firefighters Memorial Day for your state, county or town next year. Hold memorial services and a Silent Night Parade on Thursday of Fire Prevention Week. Let’s see if we can grow this into a national tradition.
Thanks to Fire Chief Ron St. Hilaire, North Bangor, NY has a new tradition. I know it will grow and improve each year in such good hands.
I invite everyone with a new idea, report, or question to write me. I promise to share it in this column. Excellence off the fireground can only be achieved with a vibrant dialog.
Roger Busico is a 31-year fire service veteran. You can reach Roger at Roger.Busico@1stresponder.net.