I was a pretty shallow kid growing up. My wife and many others say I still am.
I clearly remember making fun of the kids in my class who used to work as volunteer firemen in town. Come on. I thought they were dorky outsiders. They had their KVFD or BVFD satin jackets they thought were so cool. They also had those radios strapped to their hips that made weird noises. Every time one would go off, I would try to re-create the noise like a wise guy.
There was no a-ha moment in my life that made me think otherwise. Maybe just maturity? Who knows.
I can say this, without question, the volunteer firemen in Berlin do an incredible job. They are well-trained, motivated and if you get into an auto accident, you better hope it's in Berlin. No other firefighters will care more about you than the volunteers in this town.
I was asked to the Berlin Fire Department Annual Dinner at The Farmington Club one year several years ago and it was eye-opening. They talked about all of the rescues and fires they responded to over the past year. One in particular stuck out to me.
Alan Pipkin, is a guy everybody in town seems to know and if you don't, he's the guy with the three-wheel red motorcycle riding around town. Anyway, he was named Firefighter of the Year and tears welled up in his eyes when it was announced.
Pipkin made one of the most dramatic rescues a firefighter, paid or volunteer, could ever make that year. A truck had crashed into a car dealership right next to the BVFD on Berlin Turnpike. When Pipkin got there, he found a man pinned to a wall by the truck. It was literally raining blood. Pipkin wasted little time in getting to work as a medical officer and saved the man's life.
There are hundreds of those stories and they happen daily.
Mayor Adam Salina echoed those sentiments at the 9/11 remembrance ceremony Sunday.
"You know those sirens you hear at night, those ones where you hear them and you roll back over and go back to bed, well our volunteer firemen get up out of bed and protect us and they do it every day," Salina said.
So the next time you see a guy in a SKVFD t-shirt or an EBVFD satin jacket, just say "thanks."
It's the least we can do.