If you ever want to witness the true spirit of Christmas and people coming together for the good of others in the Quad-Cities area, you didn't have to go far this Christmas.|
It was such a wonderful holiday. It changed at 12:58 p.m. when the Port Byron Fire Department / Rapids City Fire Protection District was dispatched to Rapids City for a report of a structure fire with fire blowing through the roof.
Cordova, Hillsdale, Hampton, and LeClaire fire departments responded on that Christmas afternoon to help us. On behalf of the Rapids City Fire Protection District, I thank them for their assistance. We were able to get the fire under control quickly and a lot of equipment cleaned up and back in service with all of the help. The spirit of Christmas was with everyone there.
This Christmas was special for me because, after spending time with my family, I also got to spend time with my fire family. If I couldn't spend it with my family, the only place I would want to be is with my fire family.
At a moment's notice, when those pagers went off in upper Rock Island County, our brothers and sisters dropped what they were doing and came to help us.
Several wives were worried about our fire family as we battled the element. They joined our families together back at the fire station and made the day a little better by having those leftover Christmas dinners and holiday cookies and special homemade hot chocolate ready to warm us up.
Several kids came along and frosted and decorated cookies. If you asked my kids what they did for Christmas, you'd get, "We opened presents and then spent the rest of the day at the fire station." They wouldn't say it as if they had been robbed of playing video games and playing with their toys because that day they had a job to do and were made to feel important and a part of the fire family.
I thank our spouses and kids for paying it forward and helping us as we helped our community.
In 2012, we as a nation lost far too many firefighters and emergency workers because what we do is so dangerous. My best friend taught me a Latin phrase, "Omnes domum cedite," which stands for, "Everyone goes home."
Christmas Day as everyday was a blessing for our department as everyone went home. Hopefully 2013 will be better as a nation and everyone will go home from all calls.
I challenge you in the year to come to visit your local fire family and see what we are about because, as our number of volunteers fall, we need the next generation to step up.
I grew up being part of a fire family and remember all the times my father went out on calls. I've been doing this for 23 years and hope to for a few more, but I could use a few more members in my family like most departments could.
Please check your local fire department out. You just might find something new and remember your spouse and kids can come see it too, because they will end up being a part of the family as well.
Omnes domum credite.
Lt. Mark White is a member of the Port Byron Fire Department / Rapids City Fire Protection District.