GLEN DALE, W.Va. (WTRF) — For more than nine decades, West Virginia’s firefighters have met up from all over the state to connect, discuss their line of work, and remember.
Friday’s memorial service in Marshall County honored the work both of those who were lost, and those who still serve.
Dozens of bell chimes rang out this morning at St. Jude’s Church in Glen Dale, to remember each firefighter the Mountain State lost in the last year and a half.
It’s part of the Firemen’s Association Convention, where members gather to reflect and renew their commitment.
For the 94th year, firefighters acknowledged the sacrifice of their fallen members and recognized the invisible struggles they cope with.
Chaplain Mitchell Johnston spoke on first responders’ mental health and in recognizing the opportunities God gives to all of us.
He says the hours of training involved even for a volunteer is something many people don’t understand.
To even be on that truck to go answer that call, or to be involved in an ambulance that is responding to an auto accident or a fire call, each and every one of those require a huge amount of commitment on the family.Dr. Mitchell Johnston, Marshall County Fire Chaplain
Firefighters in attendance stood as the name of their friends, leaders and mentors were named.
Dr. Johnston says it’s a bond that’s made even more meaningful by the fact that so many firefighters are related by blood.
So you’re running a call with a brother, a sister, a cousin, a family member, and they may be coming on another truck from another department too as well.Dr. Mitchell Johnston, Marshall County Fire Chaplain
When you hear those sirens in your own community, Dr. Johnston asks all of us to pause just for a moment and pull over.
He says it’s important to have compassion for just how many traumatic events firefighters are witness to.
Give them an opportunity to go do their job to help somebody, because probably when you’re hearing or seeing us, it usually means somebody is having a bad day, a rough day, and we’re here to try to help them.Dr. Mitchell Johnston, Marshall County Fire Chaplain
And remember that they never know if their night on duty will be their last.