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This is my attempt to describe what has unfortunately become
a typical night for America's Bravest.

Just Another Night

The alarm shatters the darkness, sudden lights scatter dreams. Blinking away the cobwebs, they scramble into uniforms.

Their minds go into overdrive, absorbing information passed by dispatchers, creating images of the scene, and of the upcoming tasks.

Their bodies protest, sore, battered, and unrested from the previous calls, as they sprint towards the trucks. Joined by their comrades, they board their apparatus, and rush into the night.

Their unspoken thoughts overpower the shriek of sirens. Remembrances of past calls, strategies for the present. Canít let my brothers and sisters down. God protect and keep us.

Pulses quicken upon arrival. Organized chaos. Orders shouted, reports received. Bodies and souls choreographed for a common purpose. Lines stretched, doors forced, structure vented. One more quick prayer, and in they go.

Into absolute blackness. Somewhere within the beast rages, the embodiment of evil, unleashed, bent on destruction. The sour taste of fear swallowed. Pressing onward, symbols of humanity clad in nomex, forced to fight on hands and knees.

The devil's playground. Flickers of light teasing, catch me if you can. Stiff armed by the heavy hands of hellish heat. Fierce will and sheer determination prevails.

A hurricane of emotions. Lives unselfishly laid on the line for others. A brother or sister injured, victims found. This one unharmed, hearts rejoice, feelings of accomplishment, pride in a job well done. Will this one survive? Could I have done something better, faster? Another prayer offered by heavy hearts, silent tears mixed with the sweat of exertion. It could have been me.

Battered, bruised, burned, and exhausted, they return to their duties. Recover the equipment, reload the apparatus, restock supplies. A healing time. Quiet glances, whispered comments. Handshakes, hugs, and pats on the back. Thanks for being there for me, my brothers and sisters.

Wearily, they return to bed. Replays of the nights events. Memories of events, of faces, of situations. What will the future hold in store? They drift off into sleep, well earned rest. Sometimes a lullaby, offered by those they have tried to rescue. They remember their names.

This is one night in the life of a firefighter. Itís tough, dangerous, yet rewarding. Itís a calling, a job that is lived, not performed. Would any firefighter trade it for a safer, easier, better paying job?

Not on your life!

Michael Wade Newberry

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