As all of the world now knows, our family of firefighters suffered a tragic loss on the evening of Dec. 3, 1999. Six courageous, gallant men met their deaths doing what we all have chosen to do. We have followed our hearts and taken the path less traveled. It is the path of those of us who step to the front when duty calls and do so with a joyous and willing spirit. Although the loss is great and the sadness nearly overwhelming, there is a part of me that feels a boundless joy that there are such men and that I am, in every sense, one of them. This is my family and words can not express how proud I am of my brothers. God, how we will miss them.
While on duty on the morning of December 9, 1999 I watched the memorial services with other firefighters, captains, engineers and paramedics from my department, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue. Our training group was assembled and since I had already had the module I was able to sit with the station 8 crews and watch this incredible event.
As the dignitaries, clergy, and IAFF brothers spoke, as the choir sang, as the pipes played and as taps echoed through the tens of thousands of firefighters, a special feeling came over me. I found myself glancing around at other guys in the room, guys I’ve fought fire with. Some, nearly died with. Some I’ve known for over twenty years. The words of IAFF General President Whitehead lay on my heart as I looked outside at the gathered units. The war horses at rest, Engine 30, Engine 3, Truck 3, Truck 7, Rescue 9, Rescue 8, my own Engine 2 and a few other rigs sparked a flash of mental images. In a playback montage I recalled the many blazes and rescues we’ve handled over the years. The feeling was and is a combination of pride and brotherhood. Not an arrogant pride of being better than but a fierce loving pride of being one of.
As vastly different as we all are, when the alarm comes in and we step into our boots we become one. Totally united in purpose and will, we connect with the best part of our humanity and, at a deep level, prepare to stand in harm’s way to defend and protect our brethren. “Greater love hath no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his fellow man.” I can’t imagine a higher calling.
If Dec. 3 will always be a dark day of heavy heart, Dec. 9 will, to me, be a day of light. It is the day the world, for a brief moment, got to see an intimate view of the family of the professional firefighter. The entire world saw what we mean to each other and got to be uplifted, as was I, by the very thought that there are such souls among us.
Brothers Lucey, Spencer, Lyons, Jackson, Brotherton and McGuirk your ultimate sacrifices will never, never be forgotten. Well done, my brothers. Well done.
Firefighter Allan Albaitis
LasVegas Fire & Rescue – IAFF local 1285.
Categorised in: True Stories