The risks and sacrifices firefighters face

The risks and sacrifices firefighters face

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I would like to respectfully respond to Mr. Dario Sattui’s letter of April 13 (“The good life, thanks to politicians”).

Dear Mr. Sattui: I am the wife of a retired Bay Area firefighter. I’m sorry that you have so much disdain for them. Perhaps I can enlighten you by telling you a little about the life of a firefighter. My husband worked 72 hours a week for more than 30 years. Yes, sometimes he actually got to sleep at night. However, when an alarm goes off in the middle of the night, they have to be ready to respond. An uninterrupted night’s sleep does not happen at the firehouse.

My husband worked a second job on his days off, not because of boredom but because it is actually difficult to raise a family on a fireman’s salary. When he got off work in the morning, sometimes with very little or no sleep, he went to his second job. This meant we (myself and two children) would maybe see him every other night, that is the nights he wasn’t taking classes at the local college to further his career. (Ongoing education is a requirement.) Maybe you’re unaware that firefighters are not hired right out of high school. Many have two-year degrees and have worked in the field prior to becoming firefighters. Many cities require a four-year degree before hiring. There were many Christmases, Christmas Eves, New Year’s Eves, New Year’s days, children’s birthdays, Thanksgivings and other events that my husband was unable to attend over the years.

My husband risked his life every day he went to work, not only from the danger of fighting a fire, but the danger of working in an inner city. Have you ever driven through a slum late at night, arriving at what was possibly a drug house, because someone “didn’t feel well.” Are you aware that firefighters also handle emergency calls, not only fire calls? Oh, that’s right, you’re ill-informed and apathetic (your words about yourself and the public).

Are you aware that the divorce rate is higher for firefighters, as well as the alcoholism rate and suicide? Oh that’s right, you’re ill-informed and apathetic.

Are you aware of how many retired firefighters suffer from respiratory problems from chemicals and toxins, back injuries, stress-related problems and damage to their hearing? Oh, that’s right, you’re ill-informed and apathetic.

Cities are not going bankrupt because of firefighters. If this was the case this would have been happening years ago. May I suggest an Economics 101 class for you? Maybe while you were admiring your castle, you failed to notice the country is in a recession.

In closing, I hope you never need the services of the fire department, especially in the middle of the night while they are “sleeping.” And, yes, my husband is enjoying his retirement, but probably not as much as you will unless you retire on disability with a back injury, a knee injury caused by falling through a burning roof and are hard-of-hearing.

(Stone lives in Napa.)

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