It is Just a Raindrop

By Ron Roy

If you stop and think, a raindrop provides the essential essence for life to exist. What can one raindrop do? That one raindrop joins with many others to provide life-sustaining nourishment to the world. Those raindrops are really Earth’s lifeblood. The plants that provide food for the animals and insects need that ongoing supply of moisture to be able to grow and produce fruit, seeds, and young for the next generation. The water collects on and beneath the ground, developing into streams which lead into rivers and then into the reservoirs and the seas. And from the oceans and lakes, the evaporation of that water rises into the heavens where it all collects and condenses in the clouds until there is enough bounty to release as precipitation, which falls back to the earth. This cycle of water provides one of the necessary elements of growth and life on this planet.

It is a cycle that translates to the fire service. The fire service does not exist without the one raindrop – or in this case the one firefighter. That one firefighter is of the utmost importance yet cannot possibly fulfill all the needs of a community’s requests for assistance without help. One firefighter will provide what he or she can, while joining with other single firefighters to better provide for the needs of the community. As more and more of these single firefighters come together, there becomes enough for a squad and then a department. Just as water joins together and starts to flow, the firefighters come together in joint operations because more can be accomplished with additional resources.

If we don’t have enough raindrops, or firefighters, available to join forces within a single community, we combine with other departments outside our area when needed. Like the increasing rain in an area, we then can come together as a region to assist when and where we can. Similar to streams feeding into rivers, firefighters join together in providing service to their surrounding communities or to assist during state disasters. We simply answer the call. Large disasters receive the floods of the fire service, and then the magnitude recedes as the needs decrease and control over the incident is attained.

The fire service flourishes with the continual growth of its members stemming from the nourishment of others. When the fire service sees a drought in new community members wanting to join the ranks, we must seed the clouds to produce more raindrops so we have enough moisture to subside the drought. We start by creating recruiting efforts to encourage new members to join the department. Training is that nourishment which promotes growth. With that training, you have those who grow faster and stronger than others and those who just survive. Out of the strongest, you get your company officers and fire chiefs. These members go on to provide nourishment to others by sharing their technical and unique experiences in training. As the magnitude of firefighters grow, just like the water flowing to the lakes and oceans, some will evaporate into the clouds to start the cycle over again. But other firefighters will retire after a life cycle of service, which provides the nutrients into the soil while making room for the new raindrops to collect, i.e. the new recruits to take the place of those who have gone before them. Thus, the cycle of the volunteer service, like the cycle of water, continues over and over again.

This cycle is what maintains the fire services’ continuing growth. The older, more experienced firefighters are the ones that nourish their communities as they grow. They will give to the new members the vital nutrients needed to continue service. There would not be a department if it hadn’t been for the charter members, starting with that one firefighter. We so many times take for granted what others have done in the past to mold the future of our departments. Just as important are the new members who bring fresh ideas and technologies into the fire service of today, thereby forging us into the future.

Each raindrop is critical to the process. We must value every firefighter, those who came before us and those who come after us, as each one is critical to providing the sustenance that will allow the volunteer fire service to continue to grow and thrive.

Ron Roy is the Division Chief for Douglas County Fire District #2 in East Wenatchee, WA, a board member of the Washington State Fire Fighters’ Association, Washington state director for the National Volunteer Fire Council, and a proud American volunteer firefighter.