A Salute To The Local Fire Department – Port Charlotte, Florida

Before our house was even erected, we had dealings with fire in our area. We live in a remote wooded location tucked out of the way of our busy city. This has its benefits and hinders, we love the quiet, peaceful sanctuary of the area that we live. However, being in such a location, makes this area more prone to fire. Right after we bought the land, a fire had swept through the area, clearing everything out of its path. We thought this was great at the time as it greatly reduced the clearing costs. All that remained were a few pine trees that had to be removed. Awhile later, the house was built and not much more was thought about it. Until, the next fire arrived. Thus far we have had four fires threaten our home. When the last fire came, the police came around and told us to grab what ever we could carry and leave. The fire was coming down the street, so grabbed what we could and out the door we went. As we were driving down the street, we had to go through where the fire was burning. When we got to the end of the street, the local fire department was heading up the street with their water truck. We have no hydrants in our area, so all the water they had is what was on their truck. All of the neighbors met a few block away out of harms way. The fire was moving very quickly and we had no idea if we were to become homeless. As we waited to here news about the surrounding houses, we struck up a conversation with a DEA agent. After talking with him for a few minutes, he offered to take us back in to see if our house was sill standing. We piled up in his SUV and off we went. On the way, he was explaining that the fires are usually set by retired people that have nothing to do, and like to watch all of the commotion that a fire causes. I guess they didn’t think of the part where this is considered arson. In the mist of all the charred trees and smoke, here was the house, still standing. We were so relieved. We took a quick survey of the other neighbor’s homes and reported back. We were without power and water for two weeks. We set up a make shift camping site on our back porch with our old trusty Coleman stove to cook meals. This happened in the late spring so the Florida heat was here. It was a miserable two weeks, sleeping in 85+ degree weather and constantly smelling smoke, but all of that didn’t matter, we had a house to live in. After all of our utilities were restored, we baked a big plate of cookies and took them over to the firehouse with our gratitude. To this day, every time I see a fire fighter, I share this story and thank them for their service.

I got a call from our local magazine telling me that they were going to do a story on the “special unit” of the fire department. After my fire episode, I thought this was going to be a great story to work on. I called and made the arrangements to meet with these special professionals.

When the day came, I drove to the firehouse. It was a drizzly and overcast day. I had preplanned to possibly take some photos outside, however it was going to be apparent that Mother Nature was going to prevent this from happening. I arrived during the beginning of the morning shift. Everyone was busy getting coffee and getting ready for the days tasks. It was apparent the strong brotherhood that these men shared. When you are in a life and death situation, you need to trust the other members on your team. This department is called the “Black Sheep” of the Charlotte County fire department team. I don’t think that they cause trouble; it’s what they can do.

In a nutshell, these men are specifically trained to handle your out of the ordinary situations. For example, your driving along on the highway and a fuel tanker tips over and explodes in front of you. This is one of the special scenarios where these men have the training and equipment to get the job done. They have every piece of equipment to handle any situation it seems like. When the other stations get in over their head, they call these guys to help them out.

Here is one of the portraits that we took of the firemen in front of their specialized trucks.

This is the routine that they go through when a call comes in.

I’m being shown some of the specialized equipment that they use in some of the more difficult situations. Want to know where your taxes are going? They are going to good use.

I liked how this helmet was just sitting on this fireman jacket. In a way, this reminded me of the heroes that rushed into the WTC on 9/11 to save the stranded people.

Like some of the other posts that I have put on this site, these guys are no exception. They are true heroes. Imagine being trapped in your car and it’s on fire. Trust me, the sight of one of these men is going to be a great sight as they are going to get you to safety as quickly as they can.

The next time you have a chance to talk with your local fire fighter, make sure to thank them for their service. When other people are running out, these guys are running in. Look at 9/11, the fire department put their own lives at risk to save others. Many people were saved, while many others did not. The firemen did not stand by the side lines waiting to see if they could extinguish the flames from the outside, they ran in and did what they had to do, some paid the ultimate price. The least we can do is let these people know how we appreciate them and all that they do to keep us safe.

Until next time…


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