Firefighters are an extended family
To the Editor:
Our father, Ed Stumpf, died on April 22, 2014. He worked for 35 years as an insurance adjuster; was a husband, father, and grandfather; but above all he was a Westmere fireman. He was a lifelong resident of Westmere after serving in World War II.
Growing up in Westmere, we remember the fire calls at all times of the day and night. The young men with blue lights on their cars, racing to man the trucks at the fire department to save a house or a car, or the weekly fires at the Pine Bush. Many times, a family gathering was interrupted by a fire siren.
What is not seen by the casual observer is what goes on behind the scenes. The men and women who volunteer in our local fire departments unselfishly give untold hours of their own time in preparation for the moment the siren goes off.
There are mandatory classes in all aspects of their lives as firefighters. They attend classes in maintaining and operating fire equipment, safety courses, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, to name a few. There are monthly drills and meetings.
Time is needed every week to clean and maintain the equipment to make sure the firehouse is ready for the next call. They are, also, on call for their fellow brothers and sisters. Chief Henry Smith, Barry Nelson, and Tony Carrow came to Ellis Hospital to visit my father Easter night. When he came home for the last time, four firemen — Teddy Raymond, Tim Playford, Charlie Cahill, and Brandon Madagin — came to help him out on a moment’s notice. Two weeks ago, another fireman, Dave Juron, came over to fix our father’s furnace.
At our father’s funeral, a very large contingent of firemen and fire auxiliary women came to pay their respects. This was after a full day, Saturday, at their open house and another day planned on Sunday. While most people in our community were enjoying a spring weekend, the members of the Westmere Fire Department were at the firehouse, recruiting new members and then attending a funeral for one of their own.
The fire department was our father’s life. The men and women he served with were his extended family as it is for all the wonderful volunteers who are members of the firehouse near you.
Any time you pick up the phone and dial 911, these are the dedicated men and women of your community that will show up to help you. The next time you see one of your neighbors or meet someone at a gathering who is a firefighter, say thank you to him or her. They don’t give of their time and risk their lives for recognition from anyone, but, as we all know, once in a while, a little thank-you is appreciated.
We are writing this letter as a tribute to all the volunteer firefighters who unselfishly volunteer a large portion of their lives to serve their neighbors. We especially want to thank the Westmere Fire Department for the final salute and sendoff for our father. It was an outstanding display. Our father would have been proud!
Marcia Stumpf Szablewski