Rockdale's volunteer firefighters never get a holiday or 'day off'

During the past week a nearby small city decided to create one additional holiday for its paid firefighting department. Good for them. It's hard to imagine anyone who deserves it more.

But, as anyone with a scanner can attest, volunteer fire departments, like Rockdale's, never get a day off.

The Rockdale VFD answered seven alarms on the Fourth of July. That's right, seven. Most of them were callbacks to a pesky grass and brush fire which had flared up two days previously.

It's not hard to imagine Rockdale's volunteers had many other activities planned for that day, things they wanted to do with family and friends.

It's also not hard to imagine many of them leaving those activities, rushing to the site of some blazing inferno, then donning hot and sweaty equipment.

Rockdale's high temperature on the Fourth of July was 105.

Thankfully, the RVFD mandates some cooling rehab time after volunteers have knocked down blazes in such super-heated conditions and has a dedicated auxiliary which provides water and support at fires.

It's good to know the department is taking no chances. Many times its leaders have said their first priority is that everyone who answers a fire call also goes home.

Yes, the RVFD members are young and strong. Do young and strong men die from heat stroke every summer? Unfortunately that answer is "yes."

Rockdale's volunteer firefighters offer service above and beyond the call of duty 365 days (and nights) a year.

It's as good a department as you will find. It's as professional as any you'll find, remembering that "professional" can also apply to competency and pride in work.

Just remember the tell-it-like-it-is definition of a volunteer, one that's especially meaningful when applied to volunteer firefighters.

A volunteer is someone who does a job for free that you couldn't possibly pay them enough to do.

That sums up the Rockdale Volunteer Fire Department perfectly.—M.B.

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2009-07-16 digital edition

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