24 November '16..
On Wednesday morning, I finished a 24-hour shift as commander at the Netanya District Fire Department. We participated in 15 operational incidents, including a dispatch to the scene of a traffic accident to free trapped passengers, dealing with a gas leak and, of course, putting out fires. I came home for a short rest, and in the early afternoon, there were initial reports about a serious fire in the north. At around 1:00 p.m., the phone rang and the dispatcher said: "Danny, a major fire has broken out in Zikhron Yaakov, you're being called in to the station."
I left home to the sounds of my small children crying, saying that I had been on duty the day before instead of at home and that they had expected to spend time with me in the afternoon. I got up, left everything and went to the station.
This is the essence of a firefighter's job. It is no ordinary job -- it is a calling. Being a firefighter means knowing that at any given moment, whether you are on a shift or at home, you may be called up. Being a firefighter means working nights, weekends and holidays -- when the whole country is at home. Being a firefighter means running into places that other people are escaping from. Running into the unknown. Being a firefighter means seeing tough sights, hearing screams from people who are trapped, smelling the scent of death.
But being a firefighter, more than anything, is knowing that people's lives depend only on you, that there is no one else who will do the job.
My firefighter friends have spent the last three days at a wide range of fires and other incidents. We fought to save lives. We fought to save property, and we are still fighting to save the nature and beauty of the land of Israel. For three days in a row, with almost no rest, we have been going from fire to fire, answering every call, even when we are tired, even when we have already finished our shifts, even when it seems near impossible to stop the fire due to strong winds. We do not give up. And despite the force and the danger of the fire, we win battle after battle, because we know that our loss would mean lives cut short and property burned.
And you citizens of Israel, it is important for you to know that we are here for you. Whenever you call -- we will come. Whenever you scream for help -- we will hear. We are here all year, even when we are not in the headlines, even when there are no major fires. We are here to save a baby from a burning building, or to rescue a passenger trapped by a car accident. We understand the great responsibility, and we will try not to disappoint you.
And when you see a firetruck with lights flashing and sirens blaring, know that these are the firefighters of the State of Israel on their way to save or to help someone in distress. Be proud of us, because there are no better firefighters in the world.
In closing, allow me to quote the Firefighter's Prayer: "When I'm called to duty God / wherever flames may rage / give me strength to save a life / whatever be its age. Help me to embrace a little child / before it is too late / or save an older person from / the horror of that fate. Enable me to be alert / to hear the weakest shout / and quickly and efficiently / to put the fire out. I want to fill my calling and / to give the best in me / to guard my neighbor and / protect his property. And if according to Your will / I must answer death's call / bless with Your protecting hand / my family one and all." Amen.
Maj. Dan Josephberg is a firefighter with the Netanya District Fire Department.
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