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2020: Bright Moments Amid the Challenges

2020 has been a year unlike any other in recent memory – a year perfectly timed with the message, “Hindsight is 20/20,” as there is so much we can glean from these unparalleled challenges.

When a global pandemic reached our shores, firefighters stood steadfast on the front lines, making constant adjustments to safety and health procedures at the station to ensure continued coverage for communities. And amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, first responders responded to widespread civil unrest, with many firefighters facing community backlash for the first time in their careers. Again, firefighters stood steadfast on the front lines, even when they too were targeted.

FireRescue1’s 2020 year in review shares messages of hope to firefighters who find themselves exhausted by such a taxing year. On the lighter side, we share some of the many ways firefighters expressed themselves through their COVID-19 PPE. And we offer lessons learned from fire service leaders facing civil unrest in their areas.

But this year goes far beyond these unique challenges – and our 2020 year in review reflects this. Find inspiration in a firefighter who goes above and beyond to serve his community; read about the department tasked the ultimate response – the White House; learn about the technology that leveled-up fire service response efforts; and review our lists of the top heartwarming, viral and odd stories of the year. We cannot forget these inspirational, remarkable and thought-provoking stories likely buried in the news cycle.

If hindsight is 20/20, then we must learn from these challenging experiences, better prepared to face 2021, all the while remembering the many other notable stories to emerge from this extraordinary year.

Face masks became just another part of the PPE lineup in 2020
A look back on how the biggest stories of the year impacted the fire service, plus the bright moments that were lost in the news cycle
As we look toward a new year, we honor the memory of those who put their life on the line to protect their community
Coronavirus response dominates Second Session; suicide, LODD benefits pass
While COVID deaths will push 2020 counts high, “legacy” LODDs continue to drop
Daniel O’Beirne and Jordan Reed, two strangers with fire and EMS backgrounds, worked together to save a driver whose semi-truck struck a pole and burst into flames
Bob Stanczyk was putting out hot spots when he noticed discomfort in his left shoulder; alerting EMTs he didn’t feel right saved his life
Chiefs from FDNY, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Charlotte offer lessons from the front lines of civil unrest
Despite a challenging year, firefighters can look ahead to 2021 with hope, inspiration and renewed energy
Every helicopter takeoff and landing, every suspicious package, every hint of civil unrest – Station 13 is ready to respond
It will take teamwork and cooperation among all of us to understand and fight this monster
Dr. James Betts had been working 80-hour work weeks at the hospital; 10 years ago, he committed to getting back to his fire service roots
Captain Dena Ali draws from personal experience and data when educating firefighters about mental health and suicide
From ground-based robots to space-based tools, there are several high-tech products making waves in the fire service
Some of this year’s odder fire service calls were buried in the news cycle, not getting the ‘buzz’ they deserved