“Welcome to Providence,” my training officer said to us, sixty-four trainees all about to begin a career in the fire service.
Some of us had experience, some did not. We were told to forget everything we knew or thought we knew about the vocation we had chosen, because now we were going to learn things “the Providence way.”
Most of us made it out of the academy, and many of those who did made it another twenty years and retired. Some were injured and had to leave before they were ready, some of us are still working twenty-five years later.
New faces are introduced every few years, trainees become probies, probies become firefighters, firefighters become officers, and some of those become chiefs.
One thing remains certain: every person who raises their right hand and takes the oath of office is from that day forward until the day they die a firefighter.
While never forgetting who we were before, we know that we will never be the same. It is an honor to belong in the fire service, not because of who we are as individuals, rather because of those who came before us, and wore the uniform well, worked, lived and sometimes died doing the job.
At the end of the day, when the smoke has cleared, and the fires are out, and we make it home, we can rest easy, knowing that others like us are on duty, keeping things safe.
We know this because we live it, every second of every day, for life.
from my new book, Rescue 911…