Perhaps no one in our community has felt more compelled to lend a hand in the rescue and recovery efforts in New York than local firefighters.
Watching helplessly as television shows hundreds of emergency workers are dead or missing, the natural inclination from these everyday heroes is to hop in their cars and head for the big city to lend a hand.
There is just one problem: Because most firefighters had the same idea, New Yorks streets near the World Trade Center have gotten pretty crowded with volunteers. It seems a shame in such times to turn down offers of help, but the crews running the operation have such a surplus of manpower that more people would just clog the system.
That was the message Martinez Fire Department Chief Doug Cooper got when he asked the International Association of Fire Chiefs for advice after firefighters bugged the chief to let them offer assistance.
Theyre going around here like someone died in the family, says Cooper. Theyre a real strong brotherhood. Its just something you have to experience to understand.
The IAFC understands, but recovery efforts already are overstaffed. And rolling up sleeves isnt as critical, either, as blood banks have been blessed with donors.
What the firefighters can do, the IAFC says, is to raise money. So thats just what theyre doing with this weekends boot drive, seeking donations from area residents to help the families of those killed in the Trade Center attacks.
Just as they did a couple of weeks ago with the Labor Day telethon for muscular dystrophy, Martinez firefighters holding workboots will be stationed at the entrances of several area stores this weekend and Monday. Theyll be soliciting donations for the 9-11 Fund, which supports families of New York firefighters.
The firefighters arent the only ones eager to help; local residents have been seeking ways to jump in, too. For them, contributing money to the 9-11 Fund, the Red Cross or the CSRA Care and Prayer Crusade - among others - is a tangible way to show support.
Theres another good way to show support for Columbia Countys dedicated firefighters, too: residents who havent already done so should pay their subscriptions to the private fire services.
These firefighters, many of them unpaid volunteers, would just as quickly rush in to a burning home to save one person as those New York firefighters ran in to help save victims in the World Trade Center attacks - and who are no longer here to hear their eulogies. Our local firefighters deserve to know theyre appreciated; paying the fee that provides them with equipment to do their jobs is the best way to do so.
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