Lives of Service

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. – Albert Einstein

Last night 2 more Boston firefighters died. They died in the line of duty, protecting strangers. Many will say they are “Heroes” because they died in the line of duty, as if they are elevated above other firefighters due to the circumstances. I disagree. I say it’s only because they ARE firefighters they should be considered heroes, and like all firefighters they were heroes the day the signed that blank check to their city. Even before their first call a firefighter should be considered a hero because they and their family have agreed to see how many lives one life of risk can save. A life of service is a blind scale, you know what’s on your side of the scale, the other side is a mystery.

Firefighters know the risks involved and attempt to manage that risk. There is NEVER a time as a firefighter or public service professional when you are 100% safe. The idea in itself is a fantasy. Our job is risk management, and we as professionals excel at it. But it is risk management, not risk elimination.

Joining this profession is just like joining the military; You write a blank check in an amount up to and including your life, and you hope and train so it does not come to that. But that check does not have to be your life, it could be your mental and or emotional state. A high percentage of public service professionals are military veterans who are no strangers to losing their brothers or sisters in arms. A majority of professions do not have to deal with that, EVER. We deal with it almost constantly in one form or another. And every time, every single time, it takes something out of us.

Line of Duty death is really only the tip of the iceberg in reasons for your brothers and sisters leaving public service. I think back now on how many guys just could not do it anymore, left at the end of a shift and came back as a different person. If you were to think about it, how many brothers and sisters have left your department through injury, mental health or physical issues? I know it’s taboo, but how many suicides? How many honestly and truly retired clean and Scott free? I’m personally terrified to tell my wife how many career endings I have witnessed. I’m afraid she’d leave me and I wouldn’t blame her, and I have only been on for a dozen years.

One of the hardest parts is watching your brother/sister get picked apart in the media and social media. Watch out for the Keyboard Countrymen who have never been in harms way for their fellow man. People who have never risked anything for anyone, except themselves. They will want to defend what they think are their rights and what they think is right. They know everything that should have happened and they have evidence to prove it, of course after the incident is over. Just remember you can only harm your department by engaging these people. Do not waste your efforts on them.

If you need help get it. Don’t suck it up, or man up. Do the right thing for your family, your firehouse family, and the people who know you are a firefighter. Getting help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. It shows your priorities are in proper alignment: 1. ME 2. My Family 3. My 2nd family. You cannot help others if you will not help yourself.

Live a life of service, an honorable life. A life that that could be used as the standard for firefighters everywhere. Nobody is perfect, we fall down. But we get up, we drag ourselves and our brothers and sisters with us and we move forward. We do things goddamn it. We do GREAT things, every damn day. Even the littlest things we do can be amazing beyond measure in the eyes of someone who needs us.

Be useful, have a long career, and at the end, live long enough to make the retirement system regret ever letting you join.

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

RIP Lt Walsh

RIP FF Kennedy


  • John D'Alessandro says:

    Well said. In those final moments, when the entirety of your life passes before your eyes, make sure it is a story worth watching.

  • Walter Carper retired Captian says:

    So true, and very well said…. You are a wonderful example of the thousands of men and women who but their lives on the the line. RIP brothers we’ll take from here.

  • Cathy Eagle says:

    Heaven gained two more angels yesterday. Lt.Walsh and FF. Kennedy. I know this is an extremely hard time for the family,the other firefighters, all that was on scene, and the incident commander also. In this time of grief there’s going to be a lot of questions, a lot of pointing fingers,and a lot of what ifs. These two guys risk their life everyday to save people they may or may not even know. I’m sure they would not want to look down from heaven and see you hurting one of their own or see one of their own hurting their self. I pray that you are able to continue on, realizing that you were very lucky to know these two heroes and I pray that you are able to continue to do your job being heroes yourself, may they rest in peace and may you be able to find peace in this situation and realize that they would want you to continue on.

  • Ray Waldron says:

    Well said Brother. Thank you, God bless, and be safe.

  • Paul Lebron says:

    Rest in Peace brothers …
    And prayers to the loved ones left behind.

  • Linda Jones says:

    Rest in peace guys & to the families I feel your sorrow! I worried everytime my husband left for work (he never knew) am sure yours didnt either as that would hinder their work! Too the families I am so very sorry for your loss u are in our prayers now & always!

  • Very well said. Nothing to be added but may they go quickly to the top floor and check in and may God grant their loved ones strenth and peace.

  • Stan Berry says:

    Nicely written and right to the point. Can’t disagree with a word.

  • Joan Anton says:

    Well said, Brother. Thank you. RIP my brothers, we’ll take it from here…

  • Richard Knecht says:

    Expertly written and so appropriate! The two quotes are so right indeed. Our profession is one that is honorable to say the least. May God Bless Lt. Walsh and FF Kennedy.

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