My sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers to Lt. Robert Neary & Firefighter Daniel Sweeney, Ladder 10, Philadelphia Fire Department who were killed in the line of duty this morning, and to their families and all members of the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Apologies too, if this offends any of the survivors.
We hear it all the time, and say similar things as well. Things like, "it comes with the territory," "we knew it when we swore the oath," "stay safe, brother."
It's a risk, this job, this oath we swear, this life. People in the fire service are much like everybody else, we are willing to do what it takes to make a living, and maybe a little more. Our job gives us a better chance of death and injury than most others. But it is what we signed on for, what we do, and what we accept as our job.
We also accept better than average pay and benefits, and a good retirement package. It's part of the deal. what we signed on for, and what we expect. It comes with the territory.
I've been fortunate, as have most firefighters. We are alive, most relatively unscathed. It isn't luck that makes it so, without proper training and equipment, and experienced teachers and competent leadership more lives would be lost.
We have done the job. We continue to do the job. We die doing the job, far too often. Every one of us knows the risk, and accepts it as part of the bargain.
It's too bad that every day the bargain is attacked by our employers. Using the poor economy as justification to reneg on deals made in better times is acceptable now. The American people are weary from years of recession, and battered every day with messages promoting the idea that public sector unions are the reason for their rising taxes and declining services. They listen to the media and their elected leaders, whose fiscal ineptitude landed most places in the dire circumstances they find themselves in. The public now expects and demands we make cuts, and give up benefits, and give back manpower to struggling municipalities.
While their end of the deal is written with invisible ink, our end of the bargain is signed in blood. We know what we signed up for, and every one of us will continue to show up and honor our commitment, and in doing so, will honor the memory of the fallen.