With the recent loss of one of our brothers in the line of duty I want to spend some time reflecting rather than writing my normal training drill this month. The past twelve months have been very hard for many departments within the state. Not only with the tragic loss of Lt. Eric Hosette of Clinton, Iowa but so many others of our family to other personal tragedies.
My department lost our Chief Jerry Meyer to his battle with cancer. When one of our family is taken so young, it forces us to reflect on our own mortality. Firefighting is inherently dangerous. Not only in the reality our lives could be taken in an instant but, the fact that we have a considerably increased risk of cancer as well. Motor vehicle accidents, heart attacks, and strokes happen far too frequently.
Responding to other’s emergencies place us at risk. Every firefighter has accepted this fact when they joined. We are all aware of this but somehow have decided to selflessly do this for others. What an amazing group of people to work with! When we lose one of our family, we rally to honor the fallen, provide support for the family, provide support for the community, and finally, we support one another. Part of this is knowing that each of the fallen would have done it for us as well.
I am truly humbled when I witness lines of fire trucks and emergency vehicles present to honor the fallen. The greatest way for us to honor the fallen is to respect their legacy by pausing to reflect and then continuing to respond to the calls.
My thoughts go out to Eric’s family and the Clinton Fire Department. I pray that your pain will heal. I also pray for Chief Meyers family. I hope all the departments that have lost a member within the past months will find peace and continue to heal!
Scott Meinecke is a member of the Sheldon Volunteer Fire Department, an instructor for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, and field staff for the Fire Service Training Bureau. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org