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A thank you to all the firefighters

Who knew that a day devoted to the fathers in our lives could be such a hectic day on the island of Kauai? Many fathers here on island spent their special day that only comes once a year combating a fire to keep us — the community — safe and able to celebrate with our loved ones.

The Kokee fire came so close to Kekaha Sunday afternoon that soot and ash rained down on houses and driveways that most residents could clearly see from the comfort of their front windows in their living rooms.

Many of the firefighters, including Kauai Fire Department Battalion Chief Jason Ornellas, were not able to spend their holiday with their families, and instead spent it with their colleagues in the field. Several of them spent the entire evening there and away from the ones that they love.

There were many sons and daughter who did not get to be with daddy or mommy on Sunday due to the fire, and I’m sure there were many moms and dads who were proud to tell their children that they couldn’t be there because they had a job to do — to keep us all safe.

This is why these men and women are such invaluable assets to us all. They are there when we need them the most and they will not fail us. They will not allow that to happen and will sacrifice their time, blood, sweat and tears to make sure that we are kept safe and out of harm’s way.

It’s their sacred oath of duty, and it is truly something to behold and witness when they come together for a singular cause.

This is the reason these men and women work countless hours of overtime on holidays, spending their long hours working for the betterment of the community. It’s one of the reasons, in my opinion, that a raise to the firefighters’ pay is more than warranted with their new collective bargaining agreement.

What will happen if we start to lose these invaluable assets? We, the community, need these individuals, and oftentimes take their service for granted, just accepting it as a fact that they will be there at the drop of a hat in the case of an emergency, either rain or shine.

It’s not easy to leave your family for a cause like the fire Sunday and head into danger’s way, rather than flee it as most people do. It’s part of the job they chose to do. They are the courageous ones who head into the fire and face it so that the rest of us will not be put in harm’s way. It’s an honor to watch the way these heroes of the community respond in a moment’s notice.

I would just like to take the time to thank all these courageous men and women who gave up something that they will never get back (time with their loved ones) for the sake of all of us. There are not many more honorable things an individual can do for their community than what these firefighters do.

While many may become annoyed with closures to Kokee Road and Waimea Canyon Drive, remember that the fire will be eventually quelled and that they are there doing their jobs for all of us. It might not be on our desired timeline, but nothing really is. If you see a firefighter, thank him for his service to the community.

And remember that it is up to us to make their jobs easier by being conscious of the drought conditions that currently exist and that all it takes to start an inferno is a tossed cigarette or other carelessness.


Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or
Source: The Garden Island

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