On the eve of the most joyous event known to man, evil hunted our Brothers.
He set the trap with bait of fire and smoke. The trap was ignited and he waited. He waited and they came as they always do. As he expected. They came to fight the fire, save lives. They expected fire; bread and butter. They expected flame and heat not bullet and gunpowder. They found an evil more sinister than fire, a devil in human form who waited to ambush...and he did.
Nomex and vapor barrier could offer no protection. The air on their backs could supply not one more breath. Irons and hose and nozzle would provide no offense in this fight.
There was no opportunity to read this smoke...it did not foretell danger of backdraft or flash. This was a different smoke. The smoke that comes from the muzzle of the assassin's weapon.
Today families will grieve, the fire service will mourn. Not in numbers so grand as 9/11, but for wounds equal in depth.
Today we have rewritten the meaning of insanity, redefined tragedy. It’s been done in our own words. In our own hearts. In our own home.
The politics will soon fade. The media will leave. Those who answer the next alarm will stay. What will not fade is the commitment to duty. They will come again when called. Our memory of this unimaginable tragedy will not leave.
Forever there are two empty bunks in the house. Two empty seats at the table.
We will not be afraid. Those who are not in the bunks or at the table will be with us...there are two more Angels on the Back Step of the engine.
May God bless those lost and wounded in West Webster, Monroe County, NY on December 24, 2012.