The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 14, 2014


The Register-Herald

— As a group, they may be the most taken for granted people in the world. Seldom do people stop and think about what the world would be like without them — until you need them.

We are talking about first responders, the folks who come to our aid in fire, flood or whatever disaster might befall us.

It’s cliché, yes, but what makes someone run into trouble when everyone else is running away?

We don’t have the answer to that question, but we thank them — and God — that they do.

Monday’s story by Jessica Farrish told from the perspective of one firefighter illustrates just how capricious that occupation can be.

Sophia City firefighter Jenna Bishop and her fellow firefighters rolled up on a house fire last Tuesday that gave no indication of special circumstances.

As the firefighters began to work their way into the house, the pumper truck malfunctioned, so they had to attack the blaze in a different way. Just seconds later, an explosion ripped through the home, blowing several firefighters off of their feet, throwing off their helmets.

Five were taken to the hospital, but none had serious injuries.

Bishop called the moment “heart-stopping.”

The situation just brings home the fact that firefighters never know what they might encounter as they approach a burning structure. How can they know what potential life-threatening substances might be inside?

In this case, it is believed an oxygen tank was the culprit. And, according to fire officials, there was also live ammunition in the house that added to safety issues.

Bishop said, “It’s not every day you have an explosion like that, and people live,” and she thanked “a higher power” for the truck malfunction.

“Had the truck worked, our firemen would’ve been inside the house when it exploded,” she said. “We’d be mourning losses. But by His grace and mercy, we are all living and able to make the next call.”

As Bishop and others gathered at the hospital to support their comrades, she said it drove home the point of what it means to be a firefighter among firefighters.

For the rest of that night, she said she thought about the explosion and the way firefighters came together.

It makes us think too. It is inspiring to see the bond among these brave people, just as it has been to see the outpouring of support for those in Charleston and beyond, left waterless by the chemical spill.

It makes us wonder why it takes adversity, tragedy, trouble for people to come together and remember to care for one another.

If we could follow this path in the good times, imagine, to borrow a line from a song, “what a wonderful world it would be!”