firefighters last call

After we had moved to the farm and got to know people my husband came to me and said, “I’m going to join the volunteer fire department.”  I asked if he was sure he wanted to do that and he said to me, “Shawni, my dad always said that if a person is physically capable, they need to be on the volunteer fire department.”

When you decide to become a volunteer firefighter, you are on-call 24/7, 365 days a year.  You may get a knock on your door for help, there is no one to take your shift or trade hours with and it is a job in which your life is at risk.  The community is dependent on this group of volunteers.  In turn, your local VFD (Volunteer Fire Dept) is also supported by other VPD’s in close proximity.  So, if not enough people are available to respond to a call in your town, the next closest town of volunteers will be dispatched.  It is a system that truly defines volunteerism and community.

So we get the pager.  Ah, the pager.  The “calls” come through the pager.  All the calls…for the entire county.  I’m not going to lie, I have to tell you that this was a nightmare for me. It goes off at all times of the night.  It would go off, I couldn’t get back to sleep.  I knew it was a good cause but oh…my…lands, I was CRABBY.  I wanted to flush it down the toilet.  After listening to it go off over and over, and sitting awake, cursing it’s existence, I started to learn there are different tones for different calls.  So, if our VFD that covers our area gets a call, there is a much different tone that starts the call from dispatch.  As time goes along, you actually start blocking it out. Your ears start noticing certain tones and actually, it’s not bad at all.  Just something you have to get used to.  I really don’t even notice it much anymore and no, I never made good on my threat to put it in the toilet.

My husband spends his time at his office in Lincoln (about 30 min. away) and when he can, he will do work from home, so if he isn’t at home or around our area, he’ll leave the pager here so if something happens during the day I can let him know.  Although he couldn’t respond to a call fast enough from Lincoln, he can still keep up on what is going on.

Today, there was a call, and it said, “Last call…last fire call for (local fireman’s name from a neighboring town).”  And dispatch ended the call with commending him on his service and that “he will be missed”.

I am sure they do it all over the country, but as a fairly new family to this group, I hadn’t heard that type of call before.  It was a volunteer who had passed away recently.  It just really hit me.  What a very respectful way to honor a firefighter. His last call.  It gave a moment for all of the VFD’s to pay respect to a fallen friend, neighbor and firefighter.  It makes me proud of my small town.  Really proud.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “firefighters last call

  1. Kari G.

    Goosebumps. Reminds me of my dad’s volunteer fireman days in Potter, NE. Thanks for posting, and many thanks to all of those volunteers.

  2. I remember standing at the cemetery when my Uncle Johnny’s last call came through. It chokes me up to this day. You are right, it is a very respectful way to honor our fallen friends, neighbors, and family members. Volunteer fire and rescue squad members certainly do not get enough thanks for the work that they do.

  3. Angela Stuart

    This last call of service was for my Uncle David “Nick” Holmes. I fully prepared myself and my family, explaining to them what the “last call” was, along with seeing his bunker gear on the back of the fire truck that lead us all to the cemetery. We listened to the gun salute and taps which was diffcult, but there was NO preparation for what we all experienced when his “last call” went out.
    I have had several family members serve on the Wahoo Fire Dept. (my Dad was chief for some years, and our Uncle Nick served as secretary /treasurer for 20 years). I have an uncle that is currently working at station 5 in Lincoln, and my brother and sister-in-law are currently with the Ithaca VFD. I had a great since of pride and sorrow at the same time..pride for my family members for their dedication to protect and serve and sorrow for the void we all have in our hearts that Uncle Nick is no longer with us. Is is already dearly missed.

  4. Thank you for that Angela. You have an entire family full of volunteers that have served their entire lives and you didn’t mention this, but I know you have served as well. Our community is better with people like you and your family in it. We are very sorry for your loss.

  5. kay vincent

    We forget sometimes the people that volunteer. They all need a big thank you for the time that they put in to help the communities very good post and entertaining

  6. Kathy

    I am a 911/police/fire dispatcher. My husband, son and several other family members are also volunteer firefighters. I have often done that last call, even for close friend’s service. It is a great honor for me to be able to show that respect for their dedication and service.

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