We take a lot for granted around here, but one of the things we often underappreciate is our fire departments.

A little over a week ago, when many people were burrowing in at dusk Friday for a long, frigid weekend, firefighters from Ixonia and 13 other departments were getting the call for fully involved barn fire near Kanow Park.

Temperatures were in the single digits, not counting for the wind chill, and the mercury was still giving ground.

The roof was collapsing and livestock were at stake. It was every farmer’s worst nightmare.

To say the least, it was a challenging situation for local departments, not only battling the elements, but a fire that was out of control upon arrival, and there are a lot of departments to coordinate and manage, all with varying degree of abilities and training.

In the end, 18 calves died and a couple of firefighters escaped, thankfully, with only minor injuries after being hospitalized.

Surprisingly, some of the barn remains intact after the blaze.

Fire Chief Dave Shilling and the rest of the team that fought that fire, especially those who were injured, deserve thanks from all of us for their bravery and fearlessness, teamwork, and sacrifice.

A lot of training and practice went into this effort and even though nobody wants to see any lives lost, imagine how much worse it could have been had it not been for their efforts.

It was more than a year ago that firefighters made another sacrifice to leave their families on Christmas Day to fight the industrial fire in Helenville. Although the temperatures were a lot more merciful, it took an army of firefighters several hours to rein in that blaze of highly flammable materials.

In Fort Atkinson, firefighters were recently called to a couple of fires, including one that took two lives, which has saddened the entire community.

Sometimes it’s the brutal weather. Sometimes it’s the time of the fire. Sometimes it’s the tragic nature of the fire. Sometimes it’s all of the above, and more.

When the alarm sounds and the tones go off, this cadre of professionals, whether paid on-call or full-time, charge in to do the job that none of the rest of us dares to do.

We live in a time of dwindling ranks of firefighters.

Two-income families, ever-increasing and more rigorous training, far-flung work and home environments, and a host of other factors are depleting departments not just in this area, but across the state. It’s getting harder and harder to marshal the firefighters you need to produce a sound and dependable team.

That’s all the more reason we should be grateful for the firefighters we have.

We live in world where there is a lot of talk about making the world a better place, but so little action.

It’s hard to argue that our firefighters, in saving lives and property, aren’t close to the top of the list of people we should be grateful for.

All of us hope we never have to see them in our neighborhood, but when they are needed, it’s a relief to know that a these competent crews are on our side.

Load comments