''Worse Than Anyone Can Imagine''

September 11, 2003 - Posted at: 9:00 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the Jonesboro Fire Department is always on call.

The mission on the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America: attending remembrance ceremonies for fallen heroes.

"Firefighter dedication is no more or no less than it was prior to 9-11," said Assistant Fire Chief Butch Herring. "But there is an awareness that the worst can be worst than anyone can imagine."

The Jonesboro Fire Department is preparing for the worst case scenario. Since 9-11 they have focused more of their attention and training in the direction of weapons of mass destruction.

After September 11, 2001, the newly formed Department of Homeland Security mandated that each county assess its threat level. In Craighead County, the Office of Emergency Management found weaknesses in the area of weapons of mass destruction. But since then, with over $500,000 dollars in grant money, the office has been able to lessen its greatest vulnerability, according to Director Jack Richardson.

"There have been a lot of classes done with the fire academy and the Office of Emergency Management to the first responders on awareness of WMD and operations level," said Richardson.

Since 9-11 the Jonesboro Fire Department has also created the only HAZMAT team in the county. But even with these strides in defense, firemen can't help but remember the past.

"There's nothing more moving to me than to see a flag on the back of a fire truck," said Herring. "I'm of the impression that they would want life to go on, for life to continue, so we take the opportunity to place the flags on our fire apparatus on or around 9-11 to remember the sacrifices they made."