September 11, 2007 - Posted at 6:41 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO-As Jonesboro firefighters begin a week of extensive safety training, they are reminded of those who payed the ultimate sacrifice six years ago.
"It's part of our job, and it really is something we love to do. We appreciate all of the response we've gotten from the community. We appreciate all the respect and admiration we've gotten from them, but we just hate there was such a high price paid by fellow firefighters for that to be brought to everyone's attention," said Chief of Training, Kevin Miller.
It's moments like 9/11 and the roof collapse in South Carolina that killed several firefighters that makes these brave men reflect on their own close encounters.
"Yes, we've all had our near misses. It's one of those things where we feel fortunate at the time. It's simply a matter of training, sometimes a little bit of luck, sometimes the man upstairs is looking after you, and this happened or didn't happen. Yeah, we've all had our close calls," said Miller.
That's why training for the worst possible outcome is important.
"It's how can we make ourselves safer? These are worst case scenarios. The basic fact is, if something happens to us, we are not able to help everyone else. We are not able to help the citizens out there. So, we have to take care of ourselves first," said Miller.
Because when the inevitable comes, it's all emotions aside.
"It's one of the things you are actually able to put on hold while you are performing the job. It's kind of after the fact, when things don't always work out well. They don't always end on a positive note. It's tough to deal with," said Miller.
That's why the job of a firefighter is one that's honorary and heroic, on so many levels.
"This is not a job for most people. This is a career. It's really something we love to do," said Miller.
While the Jonesboro Fire Department has some of the toughest standards in the state, they just completed the application process and were able to find 41 candidates to draw from.
And at a time when true heroes are hard to find, that's a pretty good number.