All first responders assume the risk of the job, even on days when they never leave the station.
Firefighters, police and other emergency workers never know exactly what they’ll encounter when they report to duty. When needed, they suit up and go, not dwelling on the hazards that await, but on those who may need their help.
The deaths of two members of the Toledo Fire Department, who perished while fighting a Sunday apartment fire on the city’s north side, showed once again that there is no such thing as a routine call.
It also showed just how quickly our bravest can be taken away.
Preliminary reports suggest a “rapid deterioration of conditions” inside the two-story apartment building had overcome Steve Machcinski, 42, and James Dickman, 31, as they searched for tenants inside.
Machcinski had been a firefighter for 16 years. Dickman was in his first year at Toledo, but had previously been with the Perkins Township Fire Department near Sandusky.
Both men are being called heroes, and rightfully so.
Such tragedies don’t happen as often as they once did, due to fire prevention efforts and firefighting training. But they still add up. Between 1977 and 2012, 4,410 on-duty firefighters died in the United States. In 2012, three firefighters died in the line of duty in Ohio.
Findlay, too, has felt the pain of losing firefighters. In 1978, Roland “Rusty” Smith Jr. and William VanAtta drowned while trying to save two youths whose canoe had capsized near the dam on the Blanchard River at Riverside Park.
In 1983, Richard Dennis Shively died of smoke inhalation and heart complications after responding to a West Foulke Avenue house fire.
Like Machcinski and Dickman, Smith, VanAtta and Shively should never be forgotten.
First responders deserve our continual gratitude for much the same reason as our military veterans do, because they protect us.
The firefighters’ deaths occurred 50 miles away, but hit too close to home. As Lucas County mourns the losses, we should, too. And as we take time to remember the fallen, we should also express appreciation to those who continue to answer our calls.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a corrected version of this editorial.