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Firefighter Origins

Firefighter Origins

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Ethan Vizitei

My brother is a firefighter.

I used to say that a lot. Somebody would ask about my family at a social gathering, and I’d go down the list: my dad’s in the travel industry, my youngest siblings are still in high school, and my brother is a firefighter. No big deal, everybody does SOMETHING with their lives, but to me my brother was making a bit of a mistake. He’s a bright guy, no shortage of charisma and smarts. Why get involved in an industry that doesn’t pay too well and is geared towards brawn? I was a software developer, making huge amounts of money for somebody my age, and there was no reason he couldn’t be doing something similar. But hey, it’s his life, what’s it to me what he wants to do with it?

My brother is a firefighter.

We got along pretty well. He knew my career was taking off, and that I was doing well. I’d joke with him when I was introducing him to my friends or colleagues: “This is my brother, the firefighter. I keep trying to convince him that even rats know that you’re supposed to run OUT of the burning building, but does he listen? No!” He would just smile.

My brother is a firefighter.

I asked him about his life sometimes, when we were just hanging out. "What sort of stuff did you do this week? ", I’d say. I’d listen to his stories about ugly car accidents, CPR on dying kids, scary close-calls with burning buildings, and I would just be glad that I wasn’t having to deal with that kind of stuff. You couldn’t pay me enough! All I had to do was play with computers all day, something I would do if I was staying at home anyway. I liked my job well enough, thank you very much.

My brother is a firefighter.

I was thinking about him one day when I was driving home for lunch. A van had just swerved in front of me, and then careened off the side of the highway at around 70 mph, down a steep ravine, over a creek, and into a patch of trees on the other side, no brake lights flashed the whole time.


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