A little of me dies every time I hear of a firefighter line of duty death. It actually hurts. The people who do not make it home are not strangers to me, even though we have never met.
I know them. Firefighters are not all that different. There is a commonality that binds a crew from Providence with a crew from Pennsylvania or New York. I have worked with them, drank with them, played hockey with them, grieved with them and lived with them.
Firefighters are family. When one dies, we all die a little. When three die on the same day, we die a little more.
But most of who we are remains alive, and we pay our respects, and say things like, “we’ll take it from here.”
We go to work, and do the job, and prepare our meals, and make fun of each other. We live our lives the best we can, and fight our fires with abandon.
We do it together. All of us. Even the ones we will never have the pleasure of working with.
Firefighters Ivan Flanscha and Zachary Anthony from the York, Pennsylvania Fire Department and Firefighter Michael Davidson, FDNY have fought their final fires in the flesh, but will be carried with the rest of us, until our time is through.