As a reporter straight out of college, one of my first jobs was to cover the crime beat in communities across Brazoria County.

That often included covering fires, which often varied in size and circumstances, but were always devastating — no matter the situation.

The things I covered and experienced were nowhere near as intense and scary as some of the things the firefighters I worked with witnessed. I felt for them and admired them.

At many fire departments, there are chiefs, captains and other officers who aren’t paid for what they do. They give up their own time for training, meetings and fire calls to make their cities safer — and in some cases those cities around them as well.

The responsibility they carry is huge and the hours often long, but their job is not a high-profile one to many. In fact, few look at it as a job at all, but rather a calling.

I’m proud to come from a family of firefighters. My grandfather served as the fire captain for the Texas City Fire Department for more than 30 years. And today, my uncle has followed in his footsteps and works tirelessly as a member of the La Marque Fire Department.

Knowing and loving both of these men, it’s not surprising for me to hear how selfless other firefighters are, such as those in the Bay Area’s own fire departments in Nassau Bay, Seabrook and Webster.

These are men and women who put their life on the line every day to protect and serve their communities.

Last month, as the worst floodwaters since Hurricane Ike flooded the Houston area, some of our very own stepped up when others were in need.

The Nassau Bay Volunteer Fire Department dispatched three firefighters and a 5-ton military vehicle to help out. Seabrook and Webster Fire Departments also helped provide mutual aid.

It’s more than likely none of our area firefighters knew the residents they were helping in the northern part of Houston, but they did it because of their servant’s hearts.

That’s something to be proud of.

Let’s not take these men and women for granted. Thank a firefighter for their service. Better yet, show your admiration by signing up to better your community as well.

Shannon Daughtry

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