The Charleston Nightmare

With a solemn greeting from the jumpseat, I am writing with a heavy heart to give a huge shout out to the members of my home department. My department here in West Virginia is the Charleston Fire Department - an urban department nestled in between the big beautiful mountains of West Virginia.

We have around 170 proud firefighters that serve a community of 50,000 that swells to over 100,000 during the day. On Saturday, March 24 the CFD experienced a tragic event that resulted in the death of nine lives, seven of which were children under the age of 10. As the call rang out on that fateful night, just two blocks from the nearest fire station, my coworkers stood ready to answer the call and lay down their lives to save others.

The fire would require massive amounts of help from the firefighters, paramedics, police officers, with mutual aid from Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority, ATF, and the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office. It's hard for people to imagine how these brave men and women can put their lives on the line at a moment's notice to save someone who they don't even know if you are not in emergency services.

For us we all know it well because we live it every day. We train, play,study, eat, sleep, and sometimes fight with each other as we spend upwards of half our lives together. We all know that when it's game time we stand ready to step up to serve our communities. So, as we mourn the loss of life in this disaster the citizens can rest assured that, just like the members of the CFD, you stand ready to lay down you life to save your fellow man.

We all can learn lessons from this tragedy from both aspects. One being that this home had few too many non-working smoke detectors. This lesson should be one that we all continue to spread over our entire career. Public safety is our number one priority. We all can get frustrated with fire prevention details, but this is also where we can make a huge difference in the outcome of your next fire before it happens.

Second we need to prepare ourselves for "The Big One." I have said many times that we never know when and where our next alarm will come or if it will be the biggest call of our career. For either call you need to prepare yourself like it will be the biggest.

In closing I would like to say that no other time in my career have I been more proud of a group of people and stand proud to say that I am a member of the Charleston Fire family. I was not on duty that night, but stand committed to those who were. Now that the flames are out and victims have been laid to rest there are more patients to deal with, the responders. They need our support in dealing with this tragic loss and it's our duty to help with the healing process.

God bless the victims and the members of the Charleston, WV, Fire Department.

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