Hug a firefighter May 4 to show appreciation

Dear Editor,

May 4 is International Firefighters’ Day – we should all hug our firefighters!

Less than 4 of every 1,000 South Carolinians are firefighters, yet any time of the day in any weather everyday of the year, when we call, they come to our aid regardless of how dangerous the situation might be.

Whether it is to fight fires in our homes, cars, in our businesses and industries, firefighters are there. When there is a water rescue to be conducted, urban search and rescue in times of natural or man-made disasters, they are there. When adults, children and even pets need to be extricated from dangerous situations, our South Carolina firefighters will be there.

May 4 is International Firefighters’ Day which originated in Australia as a result of the tragic loss of life of five firefighters responding to a call for additional support to fight a raging brush fire not even in their community.

Regrettably, such tragedy has struck too often and near our homes as well.

While the deaths of the Charleston 9 will always be remembered, any line of duty death of one of our South Carolina firefighters must never be forgotten.

Almost 100 years after the S.C. Firefighters’ Association was started in 1905, it sponsored the S.C. State Firefighters’ Foundation. The date was July 11, 2001. The Foundation’s purpose was simple: support firefighters and their families, and better inform the public about the accomplishments and demands of the fire and life safety professionals who are career and volunteer firefighters in our state.

The foundation is charged with helping firefighters and their families with educational opportunities, especially those that enhance the professional skills required for modern, scientific fire and life safety programs. It can fund the very productive Leadership Institute produced by the Association.

Two very significant programs are produced by the Association. FAST, the Firefighter Assistance and Support Team is dedicated to emotional health and well-being of firefighters and their families. LAST, the Local Assistance State Team, provides assistance and comfort to the family and department after a line-of-duty death and helps file for federal, state and local benefits. Both can be fully funded by a robust Foundation.

Lastly, the foundation can increase public awareness in the area of fire and life safety as well as enhance Firefighter public image by having a spokesman available to travel the state to interact with the media and civic organizations.

One great way to hug our S.C. firefighters is to join the S.C. State Fire Fighters’ Foundation.

Find the Foundation on the web at http://scfirefighters.org/ or call me at (803) 968-6185.

Phil Leventis,

Director of Development

SC State Firefighters’ Foundation