Fascination with FIRE!

Mark DeLap
Posted 9/21/21

Weekly op ed by Mark DeLap

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Fascination with FIRE!


It may be that we have some innate fascination with fire. The way it can feel so warm at a campfire or in your fireplace at home. There is a type of romance that comes in holding someone close next to the fire or just… alone reflecting on life in general.

The fire is mesmerizing. It’s comforting. It sends a soothing scent when leaves are its fuel source.

Perhaps it’s the idea that man can harness something that wild and beautiful and make it almost obey us.

But for some, it may be a sense of curiosity and adrenaline rush they get when they go to a racetrack and the possibility of witnessing a disaster. Or standing in the path of a wildfire watching the destruction.

For our local firefighters, there is nothing charming or romantic or soothing about it.

When that siren goes off announcing there is a fire somewhere here in our county, their bodies tense, the hairs on the back of their necks stand up. For them it’s not just time to go to work, but to serve and protect an environment, a community… a family.

It has been a brutal fire season so far, and it’s far from over. At this point in the season our firefighters are growing weary without letting anyone know. Day after day they hear sirens, they run out of their homes not knowing if they will come back home that night. Or ever.

It's not a softball tournament. It’s life and death. And each day we put our trust and our confidence in these brave men who run into burning forests as others are running out.

It has come to our attention that they are having a bit of a challenge doing their jobs. And now the onus is on our plate to help them. According to Aaron Clark, County Fire Warden in Platte County, the best way we can help is to stay away from the fires.

This is NOT, contrary to popular belief a spectator sport.

As most of you know, wildfires across the West are becoming more frequent and more dangerous,” Clark said. “Unfortunately, so are the number of ‘lookie loos.’ Unintentionally, they present a considerable risk to quick and efficient firefighting operations, especially when we are trying to conduct evacuations. Eventually, there is going to be an accident or other incident that delays or prevents our ability to protect residents and property. For the safety of our volunteer firefighters, folks with residences at risk, and yourself, please stay away from active fire scenes.”

Clark, who has dedicated his life to keeping us all safe has thrown out an impassioned plea for help.  And since none of us are trained to pick up anything other than a garden hose, our help must remain from a distance. Out of their path, clearing the roads near the danger zones and perhaps dropping off a case of water with a ‘thank you’ card to the firehouse after they return tired and spent.

Imagine someone hovering when you are trying to work. It’s not accepted in any other realm except professional sports, and even there boundaries are set up. It should not be acceptable to those in critical situations.