Appreciation rises for local civil servants

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 11, 2002

The horrific events of September 11, 2001 and the bravery shown in New York and Washington by many individuals including firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel gave Americans a better appreciation of what people with our public safety must face on a day-to-day basis.

He didn’t feel that people take firefighters for granted. Often times, people don’t see fire personnel at work as they’re putting out a house fire in the middle of the night. "People don’t see us in action," Morgan said.

However, on September 11, 2001, the world saw the dedication of firefighters.

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What in training allows a firefighter to face the challenge of running into a dangerous, burning skyscraper? "Some men are better than others," he said. "…You just develop a sense of keeping your mind on your job and the task at hand. You try not to let too many other things influence that.

Your main job is to save life and property," Morgan said. "Of course, you’re supposed to do it as safely as possible….They went in &045; not knowing the buildings would fall. They were just in harm’s way trying to help people."

Anytime local firefighters go to fire, there are many surprises awaiting them. "Every fire is different," he said. "The makeup of the house is different. Just a few weeks ago we had a rescue situation. We went in and you couldn’t see anything in the house. We had men in there crawling around the house using their hands as their eyes.

Luckily, we found the person was outside and had made it out safely. The guys inside just had a job to do and they were trying to do it."

On September 11, the firefighters had to carry pounds of equipment up the stairs of the World Trade Center. "Your full gear and air pack is about 50 pounds.

(Along with) some of the new technology with the thermal imaging helmets and the night vision and heat sensing equipment, you can never forget the old way," Morgan said. "That equipment may not be working properly. You have to remember the basic way of doing things.

Improvements have been made in the weight of the equipment since Morgan came on the job. "It’s probably 30 percent lighter now," he said.

He spoke to the brotherhood of firefighters that has been portrayed often in stories about September 11. "It’s tradition," Morgan said.

A lot of father’s fathers were firefighters, father and son were firefighters, and it just got passed down through the years," he said.

Does the attention given the September 11 disasters help move city officials to better equip local firefighters? "We’ve always had good support here locally," Morgan said. Federal funding and grant money are more available now than ever before, and the local department has applied for some of it.

Has there been more disaster training

for local firefighters since September 11? "Mostly we were concentrating on the city. Since then, Marengo County as a whole has been having some meetings and getting together some (hazard) teams and a terrorist task force.

It’s going to take some time," he said "…In the future, there is going to be towns and counties more prepared."

In fact, two local firefighters are planning to go to hazardous training school.