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Appreciate firefighters before you need them

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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I’ve been in hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. While those moments have been quite stressful, I’d rather encounter one of those incidents than a fire. That’s because the flames can turn deadly in an instant. Although I wrote a column about how we should appreciate our firefighters two weeks ago, the subject remains timely in light of the July 16 fires in Lincoln’s Catta Verdera golf course and Auburn’s Mammoth Bar Fire, which started that same day. Local rancher Albert Scheiber also wants the public to support firefighters. “They’re under-appreciated. The general perception is that they just drive around and eat lunch because that’s when people see them,” Scheiber said this week. “But they’re ready at all times to help.” Scheiber knows first hand about their professionalism. On June 25, 30 acres on Scheiber’s property near Moore Road and Nelson Lane burned in a grass fire. Watching the flames quickly spreading, Scheiber thought he would lose some buildings. But, thanks to combined efforts of units from Cal Fire and the Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln fire departments, Scheiber’s property and all of his buildings were saved. The crews were there 1:30 p.m. and remained until 11:30 p.m., putting out the fire. Scheiber was so grateful for the positive outcome on June 25 that he and his family wrote a letter to the editor that ran in the News Messenger on July 9, thanking all the crews for their assistance. “The Lincoln firefighters are still here before any others, even though we’re outside their jurisdiction and even with the detours due to the bypass,” Scheiber said Tuesday. “Lincoln will be here within minutes. You don’t appreciate these guys until you need them.” Other Lincoln residents, as evidenced by the hundreds of visitors who showed up Saturday and Sunday at Lincoln’s inaugural Fireman’s Muster, were there to honor firefighters. I’m glad hundreds of residents cheered Lincoln firefighters in their friendly competitions with teams from across Northern California at this past weekend’s Muster. About 2,000 visitors showed up at Muster events, according to Steve Art, the city’s economic and redevelopment manager. Lincoln Fire Department Chief Dave Whitt was glad residents saw their city’s firefighters at the weekend community event, instead of during an emergency visit. The fire department, Whitt said Tuesday, receives 8.4 calls a day or 3,200 calls a year. Seventy percent are emergency medical calls and approximately 11 percent are fire calls. Whitt pointed out. The other calls are for public assist and good intent (when someone smells smoke, for example), false alarms and hazardous-material calls. “No one calls because there is a cat in the tree. Those types of calls are maybe two to three a year,” Whitt said. “The vast majority of the calls we go on, people need our help. They have difficulty breathing, suffer from illness or disease, heart attack, someone choking. We try to get there in four minutes or less. And we do get there nine times out of 10 before an ambulance.” All 24 Lincoln Fire staff, which includes three chief officers, six captains and 15 firefighters; are emergency-medical technician-level 1 or higher. While it’s often dangerous work, especially when battling fires, Whitt said, “We do it for the ability to help people, to provide a service most people can’t provide. Not everyone has the calling to be a firefighter.” Whitt considers it an honor to provide this service to residents. How can the public support the fire department on a daily basis? “Be aware of fire safety and your general health,” Whitt answered. “Support us when we need help. We are an integrated service into the city and the community we serve.” Carol Feineman can be reached at 774-7972 or at carolf@goldcountrymedia.com