by Chief Pam San Fillippo
-This month, The Cleaver introduces a new column by Chief San Fillippo, who heads up the Bay St. Louis Fire Department. Get to know the department better and the firemen who risk their lives to make our community safer. The chief will also be sharing fire prevention and safety information!
No one calls 9-1-1 because they’re having a great day. But when the worst thing you can imagine has happened, when you’re having your worst day ever, firefighters are on the way.
We come into your homes and your businesses to protect and care for you, your loved ones, your personal property - and even your children and your pets. We go into burning buildings when anyone with good sense is running out...and if you can’t get out, we’ll come get you, at all costs. We put out trash fires and woods fires, we extricate people from vehicle accidents, we do CPR, we contain chemical spills...and while we don’t get cats out of trees (they really do come down on their own!), we do rescue hummingbirds, sea turtles and ducks trapped in culverts.
So who are these people, these firefighters, who are willing to help people they’ve never met? They are men and women who thrive on that rush of adrenaline when a call comes in; they enjoy the challenges of dangerous situations; they don’t mind getting dirty, but they like to look good. They’re the people who are willing to run in when everyone else runs out because it makes them feel good; they know they’ve accomplished something few others can or will do and they hope they’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
To say it takes a special kind of person to be a good firefighter is an understatement. We come from very diverse, and sometimes less than perfect, backgrounds. Some of the best firefighters I’ve ever known will tell you that they were “heading down the wrong road” when they were lucky enough to be given an opportunity to turn their lives around and find their place in life as a firefighter; some simply had a desire to help others. But, a desire to help just isn’t enough...it takes a rough, tough person to be a good firefighter - a great firefighter is rough and tough, but also caring and compassionate - a rare combination. Regardless of their backgrounds, many firefighters bring a variety of other skills to the job - many firefighters are also electricians, plumbers, carpenters, divers, teachers, mechanics, musicians...the list goes on.
Firefighters everywhere are often referred to as “public servants” - a title, in my opinion, that is hardly befitting the professional men and women who come to work each day as protectors and guardians of our community, willing to meet any challenge the day brings, even at great personal cost. In the coming months, I hope you’ll enjoy meeting the men and women of the Bay St. Louis Fire Department - firefighters who very proudly protect the citizens of our community. And if you have a few minutes, stop by the firehouse...we’d love to meet you too!