A steady stream of firefighting moments

image I’m fast approaching my fifth year as a volunteer firefighter. In those five years I’ve experienced some of my life’s greatest emotional peaks and valleys while fighting fully involved house fires, searching for lost hikers, transporting injured ATV riders off the dunes, educating kindergarteners about fire safety, and extricating both the living and the dead from mangled automobiles β€” sometimes within arm’s reach of one another.

Most of those images will remain reels of mental footage tucked away in my memory like the VHS cassettes of my youth; waiting for me to find them some day when, more than likely, I’m searching my mind for something else entirely.

As I sat here at the breakfast table quietly eating a bowl of Froot Loops, I began scrolling through some of the firefighting photos on my iPad. Among them are moments of fun, intensity, fear and camaraderie built on a shared understanding of trust and faith. Also among those photos are firefighters I once stood with who are now gone β€” some by choice, others… after having been chosen.

What follows is a short montage highlighting some of my favorite memories, people and experiences over the last five years as a firefighter. Though I’m limited to the photos I’ve either taken or that others have sent to me, I hope this will give you an idea of the moments I’d like to share.

The rest will have to remain tucked away in my memories.

Thanks for letting me share these moments with you.



(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation and a member of the writing team at Long Awkward Pause. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Disclaimer: Even if you choose Ned’s book for summer reading, you should still use sunscreen.)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

51 thoughts on “A steady stream of firefighting moments”

  1. Wow! That must be pretty satisfying work (for the most part). Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

    Now, since no one is watching, you can tell me… How on earth did your truck end up in the river? :p

    1. Lol! Actually, a mother left her two kids in the truck while it was idling (I know.. DUH). It slipped into gear and drove into the water. Everyone was ok. Except for the truck…

      1. *flashback*
        That’s how my sister (aged 3) and I (aged 4) wrote off my mothers car, giving her the first grey hair of many. The handbrake slipped off (aherm), and we leapt into the back seat as the car ran backwards down a hill and straight into an oak tree. The tree survived…

      2. Ned, I’m a retired TV news reporter with 31 years logged in Boston. One of my favorite memories is the two weeks spent with Boston’s “Jakes”, 24-7. Impressive, funny, sad and very educating. They even gave me my own gear which I still have stowed away. The gear may be older than you. Thanks for sharing.

        1. It sounds like you both made quite an impression on each other, Gary. Thanks for the commitment it took to tell that story then, and for sharing a little of it now.

          And as for those turnouts, I’ll be 49 next month β€” so I’m pretty sure I’ve got them beat πŸ˜‰

  2. So proud of you and your fellow firefighters! We don’t say thank you nearly enough, but I’m saying it now. Thank you for giving your time, energy, and courage to help others. And thanks, too, for sharing that touching montage with us. Beautiful!

  3. I’m speechless Ned – I am honored that you chose to share those photos with us. You and your colleagues have my highest regards for your selfless work saving the lives and protecting the safety of others – even at the expense of your own safety. Thank You.

  4. Thank you for sharing this great legacy with us . It is an important part of your life and of the lives of others who have benefited from your actions. Firefighters are heroes . I owe them my life in getting me to the hospital in time to receive two bags of blood necessary to keep me going. Bless you all.

  5. Here’s hoping you and your teammates across the country have to put their training (other than cooking) to as little use as possible. Stay safe and healthy, my friend.

  6. Reblogged this on createdbyrcw and commented:
    An endearing video by a friend of mine who is a volunteer firefighter (and otherwise whack-job).

    Please take a moment to watch it and give a thought to these wonderful people who risk everything to keep others safe and sound (and well-fed, if the video is anything to go by).

    These folks are heroes (even Ned).

  7. I loved this tribute. Firefighters are my forever heroes since they helped us to survive a house fire in the mid 1970s. The whole family and pets were within five minutes of certain death from smoke inhalation but they got us all out with no injuries to any living creature. My kids were only 6 and 7 years old – gulp! I’ll never forget the firefighters, they were fabulous.

  8. That was awesome Ned! Thank you for sharing such a cool job. I admire you and everyone else who puts their lives on the line every day for our safety! You rock! Booya!~

  9. What a great window into your firefighting life. So awful you have to be prepared for school shootings. Wouldn’t have even occurred to my generation to do such a thing, and now it’s a legit fear.

    1. We train with police and ambulance to go in and get the injured, under cover from police. It was extremely sobering being in my children’s high school under those circumstances.

      Sadly, it’s a scenario that has to be on everyone’s radar 😦

No one is watching, I swear...

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