A few words about the heroes in our midst
● By Steven Hoffman
On Tuesday, July 28, a fire broke out at the Oxford Terrace Apartments. The residents of the 40 or so units in the building were instantly at risk, as were their pets and their possessions. Union Fire Company No. 1 of Oxford is located directly across the street from the apartments, and Oxford firefighters responded quickly to the scene. They were soon joined by firefighters from several of the neighboring fire companies. With no fanfare, the firefighters made sure that the residents were safely evacuated and brought the blaze under control, limiting the damage that was caused by the accidental blaze.
This fire is noteworthy only because it jeopardized so many people. The firefighters who answered the call on this hot summer day were more than equal to the task and brought the fire under control quickly. There was no need for a firefighter to risk his or her own life to rescue an elderly person from the dangerous edges of the flickering flames—though firefighters are sometimes called upon to do just that. There was no reason for the firefighters to scale dangerous heights, to stand on a singed roof that could collapse at any moment—though firefighters are sometimes called upon to do just that. This particular fire on this particular day did not demand extraordinary amounts of heroism, although one firefighter was seen returning a scared but unharmed cat to its appreciative owner. This was almost a routine fire, even though there really is no such thing. A slight shift in the wind can sometimes transform a blaze under control into an uncontrollable monster that will destroy everything and everyone in its path.
We certainly don’t want to slight the police and the emergency responders who often serve us heroically during our moments of need, but that’s an editorial for another day. Now, we’d like to focus our words on the work of the firefighters for volunteer companies in Kennett Square and West Grove, Avondale and Oxford who jump out of bed at night to respond to a house fire or are the first to arrive on the scene of an accident with injuries.
Just consider some of the situations that firefighters have responded to during recent months:
~ On April 11, firefighters from Union Fire Company No. 1 in Oxford were called to Camp Tweedale because a hiker was injured and unable to move off a steep embankment along the edge of the Octoraro Reservoir. The emergency responders were able to execute a low-angle rescue and extricated the injured hiker so that he could be transported to the hospital for treatment.
~ On Easter Sunday, firefighters from Kennett and Avondale responded to a call near the New Garden Airport to stop a growing brush fire from spreading further through the woods. Po-Mar-Lin and Longwood units also helped out as firefighters battled to suppress the blaze.
~ On a summer evening in mid-June, the West Grove Fire Company, along with Medic 94 and an ambulance out of Avondale, responded to a motor vehicle collision on Chesterville Road where a pickup truck struck a utility pole and went off the roadway. A young passenger was trapped inside the vehicle, which was not stabilized. Emergency responders first stabilized the truck and then they were able to quickly free the child who was trapped inside.
During many of the fire calls, volunteers firefighters from surrounding communities like Cochranville, Rising Sun, Quarryville, and several from Delaware are called upon to assist our firefighters, just as firefighters from southern Chester County assist their neighbors when they are called upon to do so.
Whether it’s stopping the spread of a fire through an apartment building, responding to the report of an injured person in need of rescue, or arriving first on the scene of an automobile accident, these brave volunteers sacrifice their own time, and frequently risk their own safety, for others.
We would like to extend a thank you to all the local volunteer firefighters who are always—always—there when the residents of southern Chester County need them the most.