Everything Bremerton: Take care this holiday season

Growing up in a family of firefighters, there were many times where I witnessed firsthand the tragedy of one simple careless decision or less than thoughtful act.

My father was a volunteer firefighter for 26 years. My uncle and grandfather were also firefighters. During my youth, the community in which we lived was rather rural and mainly agricultural in nature. A small Mayberry RFD, if you will. Everyone knew everyone. These people were our friends and neighbors, so when the tragedy of an accident or a fire would hit, many of us in the community rallied and pitched in to help out where and when they could.

Some of the worst situations that I remember were Christmas tree fires. These fires were usually started by faulty, overloaded electrical hookups, outlets or even worse — unattended festive candles or ill-placed space heaters. Families would lose not only all of their holiday gifts, but sometimes their entire home, as well. Sadly, most times the tragedy was very preventable if only a little more common sense had prevailed.

Common sense that could have also prevented the untold number of drunken driving accidents my father also served at over the years, several of which proved to be fatalities. I always remember the look on his face when he would come home from some of the most horrible scenes, especially those involving children or teenagers. I promised myself that I would never be responsible for putting that look on my father’s face. This is why I do not drink and drive to this day and help and encourage others not to do so, as well.

We tend to forget that those individuals who serve us in an emergency capacity are people, too. They are fathers, husbands, siblings and friends. They hurt and feel just like we all do. Sometimes, even with all the defenses and barriers in place, certain aspects of the job still manage to occasionally cross the line and hit them at a very personal level. In honor of my father and the countless firefighters and police officers that serve our community, I ask that you pause this holiday season to take a moment to think, to look around and apply some of that common sense to your own situations. Are those holiday lights hooked up properly? Will you be close by to monitor the candles while they are lit? If you are driving, how about a soda instead of that beer, wine or cocktail? How close is that space heater to flammable decorations?

The holidays are for celebrating, gathering together and sharing in the fun. They should never become a season of tragedy.

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