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Firefighter Friday: A New Column by Jessica Locke

Posted December 12, 2008 07:12 AM

Welcome to Firefighter Friday, a periodic weekly column that will focus on the Newton fire department, and issues that affect the safety of Newton’s firefighters and the citizens they protect.

My connection to the Newton firefighters came about as a result of volunteering after 9/11 at a NYC firehouse. What I witnessed there changed my life forever. The job of a firefighter is based on the premise to do good. No amount of money can convince a man or woman to do "the right thing"; to lay their lives on the line for any stranger in need. Their willingness to do so requires an extraordinary level of commitment, intelligence, awareness, and selflessness most of us rarely see in our everyday lives.

A group of such dedicated and extraordinary people come together to protect Newton. Yet, unbelievably, the Mayor and the Fire Chief have undermined their department, routinely risking the safety of their members, and ultimately that of the public as well. Since coming onto the Newton scene in late 2006, I have been repeatedly stunned that city employees could be treated with such disrespect and disregard for their well-being.

In the weeks ahead, I will report on the issues and conditions which affect the Newton firefighters’ ability to successfully serve their community. Hopefully, this forum will allow the residents of Newton to come together to seek the solutions that will make their fire department better – and safer - for everyone.

(Jessica Locke is Executive Director of the Firefighters Fund (www.firefightersfund.org) and author of "Rescue at Engine 32". Questions or comments: jessica@firefightersfund.org)

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