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Letter: Deadly fires take toll on everyone involved

Deadly fires take toll on everyone involved

The fire on Humber Avenue in Buffalo that killed two men and seriously injured a girl was heart-wrenching. A father lost his life trying to save his family from a fast-moving house fire. These tragedies happen all too often. My sincere condolences go out to the surviving family members and relatives who have to live with these devastating injuries and deaths.

The members of the Buffalo Fire Department family who responded to this devastating fire scene also suffered physical and emotional stress. As a retired fire lieutenant who worked on Rescue 2 and Rescue 1 for 20 years, I responded to hundreds of fires and have seen firefighters weeping at scenes after failed rescues. I have also witnessed many saves over the years, some personally and others while working the fire.

The highs and lows are like night and day. I saved a 2-year-old boy over 30 years ago at a house fire and I was on cloud nine for days afterward, and to this day I still recall the circumstances. I have also assisted in carrying out deceased civilians who perished at far too many fires. And these memories never fully disappear either.

I have seen fire trucks go to hospitals so firefighters – still in turnout gear, exhausted and beat up physically – can inquire about rescued civilians. I have seen fire flash over a room and witnessed firefighters crawl out under the flames with a victim. I have witnessed rescues at car crashes, drownings, industrial accidents and many other medical emergencies. Whenever we succeed in helping any person in distress, the thrill is overwhelming; it never gets old.

I know some people say, well, that’s your job and that’s what you’re paid to do. That’s true. But whenever a firefighter, whether a rookie or a hardened veteran, experiences a life-or-death situation, it hits him when he gets home.

Phil Ryan

West Seneca