Hubby spent a better part of this week fighting fires. On Monday, they were called out to offer mutual aide to another fire department. This fire claimed 1000-2000 acres and a farmstead of an old farmer. This was a sad loss since the farm had been in this family for many years. He was left with the clothes he had on, his pickup, and a tractor. That is a hard loss to swallow for anyone. The guys got back to the hall about 8:30 that night just in time to eat some supper, clean up trucks, and get home to their families. Hubby had to miss our 3rd child birth class due to this fire, but that was more important at the time.
Then, on Wednesday, about 4:15pm, the guys were called out to a fire west of town. The other rural fire department had already been called out, but it was too big for them to handle. After spending a good 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get to the flames through the rough terrain, they started the long battle. Because of creeks and railroad tracks and valley's they struggled with the getting to the fire. After being out there for about an hour, they had to call for more mutual aide. Two other rural departments were called out because the guys couldn't keep up with water. They fought this fire, keeping it from jumping both lanes of the interstate and taking on any farmsteads or other structures, for a good 5 hours before making any real progress. The ladies auxiliary supplied the guys with chicken for supper and more beverages to keep them hydrated. This was going to be a long night! I talked to hubby at about 10:00pm and he said half of the guys were going to stay out there until 3 to watch it and keep putting on water, and then switch at 3. Hubby came in the house about 3:30am lookin' like he hadn't showered in a month! After a quick shower, all he wanted was to crawl into bed and sleep for a good 5 hours and then get up and go into work late. Considering he had been up since 4:30am the previous morning, worked a 10 hour day and fought a hot fire for hours, I thought he deserved more then 5 hours.
The other group of guys all came back to the hall at about 8am to refuel and clean trucks. But, they were called out to the fire again at about 10 that morning. The wind and heat didn't help the situation. All we could do was pray for some freak rain shower to dump at anytime, but that obviously didn't happen! Again, the ladies auxiliary supplied them with lunch and beverages because this was going to be another long haul. When I got off work, I headed to the fire hall to start making supper for them. Luckily, the guys were able to come in at about 7 and eat. They weren't real sure if that was it for the day or if they were going to have to head back out. But that was it. Between the two departments, they would check it throughout the night and the next morning.
Being at the hall when they came in was an experience. They all came in, totally exhausted, not wanting anything else but a chair, some food and probably a shower. They all drug themselves in and sat down not saying a whole lot, which is not normal for this group of guys. Finally, they decided it was just time to eat and keep going. As they were eating, they started sharing stories and experiences from the last two days and they started joking and laughing. This was the group that I know! They cleaned their plates, but didn't just sit there. They knew their duties weren't finished. They thanked us for the food and headed to the shop to wash and restock trucks and check them over quick for any needed maintenance. After finishing that and cleaning up the shop, they had a celebratory beer and then headed home to their families who they probably hadn't seen much in the last 2 days.
What I learned from these guys in those two days is real heroism. No, they didn't save lives from burning buildings or save a drowning victim. But they put their families and jobs on hold to sacrifice their lives. This selflessness really inspired me and made me so proud of these guys. Volunteers. They don't get paid for their long hours out there. And some don't even get paid at work for those days. Some of them had never gone that long without seeing their kids, but I hope those kids see their dad as a real life hero! These guys deserve so much respect. So much more then us ladies on the auxiliary can give them by just keeping them fed and watered and saying a simple thank you for their hard work. And no matter what they just did to keep a fire from destroying the whole country side, they were so thankful for what us ladies had MADE them. We heard more thank yous then we deserved for what we did!