Firefighters from 34 states help Texas battle brush, grass blazes

I f you look at a map of Texas, which shows where the devastating wildfires have been burning, it looks like two thirds of the state is on fire.

That’s not precisely the correct ratio but the plague of fires has certainly been bad enough. So bad that help from other states was solicited.

Did it ever arrive!

As of the weekend, there were 1,300 out-of-state firefighters from 34 states battling the great brush fire epidemic of 2011.

Many, but not all, of them are from Arizona, California and Utah. That’s good, firefighters from those states are no strangers to donning full gear and hitting the fire lines in triple-digit temperatures.

But the work of everyone, no matter where they hail from or what kind of accent they have, has been most welcome. They’ve pitched right in alongside their Texas counterparts and the teamwork has drawn lots of compliments from the big-city media types.

One Dallas radio station even reported last week that the Texas firefighters work so well with their out-of-state counterparts because “every firefighter in the U. S. gets the same training so that anyone could go anywhere and work together if the need arose.”

That’s good. We’re glad there’s uniform training across the country but that’s not why firefighters work so well together.

They work so well together because firefighting is a brotherhood. It’s a calling and it takes a special person to do it, whether they are volunteers, like Rockdale’s, or paid employees of a municipality, like many who came to Texas during the past month.

One firefighter website described it this way: “The fire inside a firefighter burns brighter and hotter than the fires they’re called upon to put out.”

Indeed. It’s a calling where you might be called upon to give up your life for your fellow man or woman.

Two firefighters have done just that in Texas this spring. But the brotherhood goes on.—M.B.

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2011-04-28 digital edition

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