HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
June 25, 2007, Herald Journal

Ladder 49 becomes reality

By KRISTEN MILLER

Recently, I watched the fictional movie, “Ladder 49,” about a Cleveland fire department. It stars Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta as courageous firefighters and the daily struggles they face.

Although it may be fictional, the movie does a great job portraying what a firefighter, and their family, goes through to keep people like me safe from harm’s way.

Now, with the recent news of nine Charleston firefighters dying in a furniture store blaze (the most lost since 9/11), the movie has become somewhat of a reality.

The movie portrays the courage firefighters have when entering a burning building without knowing exactly what lies ahead, similar to what the Charleston men did. Fire is an unpredictable force of nature, and they soon found that out with the collapse of the roof.

The fire quickly grew, feeding on the wood lacquer and combustible materials, and the absence of sprinklers didn’t help the matter.

Besides the heroism and dedication these men and women have for the job they so love, firefighters have lives outside the fire hall.

Many have wives, husbands, and children that worry and pray every time there is a call for service, much like the families and friends of the soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Every day, lives are put on the line for the safety and welfare of others. What an honor we civilians have; to be in such good hands.

I won’t lie, the movie is definitely a tear-jerker, but it gives a sense of what the job encompasses, both as a profession and as a way of life.

After 9/11, the nation found a renewed appreciation for the sacrifices made each and every day by firefighters. With life being so unpredictable, and having a job as dangerous as a firefighter, one just never knows. The only thing we can do is hope and pray they each return home safely. What a helpless feeling.

I can’t imagine being the wife of a firefighter or a soldier fighting in Iraq, never knowing what the day may bring. On the other hand, what an honor it would be to be a wife of a hero.

Stories and movies like this just confirm the instability of life, but they also make the nation appreciate the work of those who put their lives on the line for the safety and welfare of others. As I stated in a previous article I wrote, it’s a call to duty, and we all need to thank them for that.