Once again we’ve witnessed the heroic efforts of our area first responders, and our local firefighters who literally risked their lives in an attempt to rescue a family from a burning home. The February 26 fire at the Maple Grove mobile home park claimed four young lives, and injured three others. As the remaining family members struggle to recover from their injuries and excruciating loss, the first responders also grapple with the sadness and destruction of family and lives. All of their best efforts, professionalism and expertise could not change the outcome of the fatal fire. Despite their extensive knowledge and giving their all to minimize losses and damage, these firefighters, like the rest of us, cannot wish away the outcome. Unlike the rest of us, they also cannot erase the memories of what they witnessed firsthand.

It is unimaginable for most of us—who have been taught all of our lives to run away from a burning building—what it is like to run into the flames to save a life. The courage, bravery, and training required to undertake such a daunting task is the stuff mountains are made of. As always, they rise and use all their skills and climb that mountain time and again. Whether it’s a building or home fire, vehicle crash or hazmat spill, these men and women suit up and go at it full throttle. It is no wonder that the after-effects are sometimes lasting and difficult to deal with. The level of stress they endure on scene is off the charts. Remaining calm while following gut instincts is mastery at its best. We continue to be in awe and amazed.

It is our sincere hope that the special meeting for first responders held on the evening of the fire has helped ease their pain and through sharing their experiences feel less alone. In tragic situations like last week’s fatal fire, these men and women on the front lines truly are a team, and we hope that they know their efforts are greatly appreciated and highly valued by the communities they serve.

Next time you see a firefighter, first responder or police officer, let them know how grateful you are for all they do in all sorts of daunting, uncertain and downright frightening conditions. Once again our hometown heroes have demonstrated their dedication to their profession. Thank you all, very much.