In tragedy, firefighters stand as community pillars

Sandy Hook firefighters stood tall when their community needed them most

Editor’s Note:

Editor's note: Chief Adam K. Thiel takes a moment to reflect on the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., and commend its emergency responders for standing tall when their community needed them most.

As the father of two school-age children, I'll admit that I've deliberately avoided the constant news coverage of the unthinkable tragedy in Newtown, Conn. Like most of you, however, that didn't mean it wasn't the number-one thing on my mind last weekend, and I join the rest of our nation in extending my thoughts and prayers to everyone involved in, or touched by, this horrible event.

As I thought about what I could possibly say today, I turned on the TV news. The first thing I saw was a photo of the neighboring firehouse where evacuating children took refuge and many families were given the terrible news that every parent dreads.

In that moment it struck me that, while there were certainly 911 calls, like most of the incidents to which public safety agencies respond, in this case "they" went to the local fire department for help, instead of the other way around. And, of course, firefighters from Newtown and surrounding jurisdictions were there, and remain on scene, to do anything within their power to assist.

The rest of us can only imagine how our brothers and sisters in Conn. are feeling right now as the world sees once again how American firefighters, and our colleagues in public service, remain the very pillars of our communities.

Thank you all for your service.

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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