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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Families of fallen Japanese firefighters need help

Its the families of firefighters around the globe who bear the brunt of their sacrifice

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's Note: Chief Adam K. Thiel looks at the impact line of duty deaths has on Japanese families, and asks you to help.

Did you know this many Japanese firefighters were killed a little more than a year ago during the Great East Japan Earthquake

The sheer size and scope of that tragedy, combined with the overall courage and resilience of the Japanese people as a whole, overshadowed the heroism of these firefighters who — like their counterparts everywhere around the world — did their duty in spite of the extreme circumstances, and paid the ultimate price.

This story is a sad and unfortunate reminder that firefighters' families, across the globe, often bear the brunt of their loved ones' sacrifices in the line of duty.

It's probably all too easy to dismiss this situation as something we'll never face here in the United States; hopefully we know better.

A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Tokyo Fire Department with several other U.S. chief officers. I can tell you without hesitation that we came away uniformly impressed by the technical sophistication and professionalism of Japanese firefighters. Believe me, if they were hard hit by this disaster, I cannot imagine how we would handle a similar catastrophic event.

Perhaps we, as FR1 readers, can step-up now to assist the families of our fallen brothers and sisters in Japan.

Check back later this week as we identify some ways to help.

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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