A Tribute to Firefighters
August 23, 2013Tags: fire, health, public safety, safety, utah, utah fire, wildfire
By Governor Gary R. Herbert
It’s been said: “All men were created equal, and then a few became firefighters.” I wholeheartedly agree.
I could not conclude otherwise after seeing firsthand the heroism and dedication of many of the firefighters who are battling the blazes that have destroyed 14 homes and charred more than 67,000 acres in Utah.
It isn’t a job for the feeble-kneed or fainthearted – or, I would add, the empty-handed.
Each firefighter lugs as much as 60 pounds of gear on the job, often up steep mountain slopes, down tree-choked ravines and across other rough terrain. Up before dawn, firefighters are still at it well after dusk; 12- to 16-hour shifts up to 21 days straight are the norm rather than the exception.
It is exhausting, back-breaking work that not only requires all firefighters’ skill, physical strength and mental toughness, but also could cost them their lives if they lose focus for even a moment or the winds or other conditions change dramatically.
Even so, we have 1,500 firefighters from Utah and 14 other states putting their lives on the line to battle the major blazes in our state. We also have deployed more than 120 engines and between 15 and 20 helicopters – and that is not counting all the firefighters and assets deployed by local volunteer fire departments. With 381 fires reported thus far in August, they have been extraordinarily busy.
I am profoundly grateful and deeply humbled by the heroism and sacrifice of these brave men and women, who leave their own homes and loved ones to save the lives and property of people they typically have never met. They are being tested and forged in the furnace of affliction and are proving their mettle each and every day.
As Governor of Utah, I want firefighters to know that we as a State recognize and salute them for their service and sacrifice. We know that they are all that often stand between us and danger or disaster.
Wherever and whenever they stand, I want them to know that they do not stand alone or unappreciated. We stand with them in our hearts and thoughts, and we kneel in prayer in their behalf.
God bless these firefighters, from Utah and across the country, for all they have done and continue to do to keep us safe.