Letter From The Directors ...
A Celebration of Life
|By Shon Buford, Director|
|The Professional Fire Service has been saddened by the lost of more of our brothers and sisters. Since 1991 when the International started keeping statistics of Line of Duty Deaths, we have lost about 1300 Firefighters. Each life lost effects every one of us, but its especially hard when it hits closer to home.
My condolence goes out to all the families and departments who lost loved ones over the years. Each life lost is felt by many, but Im going to focus on the stories of Deputy Fire Marshall Ronald Wiley, Lt. Kevin Reed, Capt. Matthew Burton, Fire Engineer Scott Desmond, and our very own Chief Operator Alison Green.
Im starting with Matthew Burton, and Scott Desmond of Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, because it was at their services that I got the inspiration to write this article. As I sat in my seat next to thousands of our brothers and sisters, and read my program, I realized
|something special. I wasnt at a funeral, but a Home Going celebration. The top of the cover page read A Celebration of Life, in the middle, the pictures of Matthew Burton and Scott Desmond and at the bottom the words Honor Duty Sacrifice. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Matt or Scott, by the end of the services I felt as if Id known them for years. Matt and Scott gave the ultimate sacrifice on July 21, 2007 in the attempt to save the lives of others, driven with the purpose of honor and duty.
Greater love has one than this, than to lay down ones life for his friend. Matt. 15:13
The next three, all who I personally knew, bodies succumb to the rigors of our job much sooner than their will to continue to serve their community. The work of a firefighter can be stressful on many different levels. From the sound of that first alarm to the beginning of their eternal shift, a firefighter work is never done. It is this love for our job that allows us to run into a burning building, race to the medical aid of a person, enter a hazardous environment, or lend a sympathetic ear. Alison, Kevin, and Ronald embody all of those characteristics.
Ronald Wiley, of the Richmond Fire Department, was a mentor to many. I first met Ron through my uncle, who introduced him as Kings brother (King Wiley - Oakland Fire Department), but I quickly learned the Ron was his own man. Ron was passionate about the job, and wanted everyone to share that passion with him. He was a CPR Instructor, worked with the Richmond Youth Academy, and supervised the Hazardous Materials Program. While returning to work from a meeting, Ron was fatally injured in an automobile accident on July 2, 2007.
Its no use saying We are doing our best. You have to succeed in doing what is necessary. Winston Churchill
Kevin Reed, of Oakland Fire Department, was fully dedicated to every endeavor in his life. As a proud member of Local 55, Kevin served as a member of their Executive Board. He also served his community by visiting the Oakland Children Hospital, volunteering for the Special Olympics, and working as a referee for the East Bay Football Association. January 20, 2007, less than 24hrs after battling two blazes in Oakland, Kevins heart, large and full with love, took its last beats as he worked out in the gym.
Little Progress can be made merely by attempting to repress what is evil; our great hope lies in developing what is good. Calvin Coolidge
Alison, a proud member of SFFD 87th class, loved a challenge. Whether it was her attempt to get into the SFFD, or something as simple as a debate on hose leads, Alison always gave her best. Alison kept this fight to her very last breath. Alison was diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately this was a fight she would eventually lose. Alison left us this past December but shell always be remembered. Cancer is a reality that firefighters face at a higher percentage than the rest of society. A large number of our members have and will be visited by the Big C, and we have to be there for each other.
Start by doing whats necessary, then do whats possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Saint Francis of Assisi
Let me start by welcoming Shane Francisco back to our Department. Shane, himself, a cancer survivor spent the past four years working for our Government as a Secret Service Agent in their Chem/Bio Branch. While working in Washington DC, Shane was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Living so far from family and friends, Shane was blessed to have a co-worker and friend, who he would eventually ask to marry him, see him through these very trying times.
I had the pleasure of meeting Monica this past March when we were back at the International Legislative Conference to meet with 110th Congress. With the prayers, love, and support, along with numerous radiation treatments, Shane was able to return to work as an Agent, and eventually find his way back to San Francisco Fire Department.
Justice would not be served if I didnt take time out to thank the emotional and spiritual back bone of our Department, Father Greene. Words can not express the gratitude I have for him. Father Greenes dedication isnt just for the active members of our Fire Department, but he extends that love to our families, retired members, and close friends. If you share the same sentiments I have for Father Greene, please write and share your story.