THE HEART of SERVICE: A Special blog for the courageous firefighters of Engine 7 Ladder 10 in Philadelphia

In the month of April 2012, Philadelphia experienced “a great pain” because of the loss of two firefighters killed while battling a massive warehouse blaze last April 9. They were killed when a wall collapsed as they inspected a building adjacent to the burning warehouse. While in the line of duty, 60-year old  Lt. Robert Neary and  25-year old firefighter Daniel Sweeney lost their lives. The heart of these two courageous fire fighters is always centered on their service to others.

In our daily busy lives, we tend to forget the people who work with their lives always on the line. Their courage and dedication to risk their own to save others are always admired and look up to, and to give them their well-deserved special recognition is to say the least an understatement of their great contribution to the society. The student leaders of Truebright Science Charter Academy School along with Mrs. Mary Angel Flores  (math teacher) and Mr. Samuel Adams (English teacher) came up with an idea for the school to come as one in remembering the unsung heroes of our time. It was a memorable moment to see how Lakeeta Joyner (president of the student government), Brianna Rush (senior class representative), Zane’ Spence and Kashaay Brown (officers of the College Awareness Club) visited each classroom, encouraged and inspired the students and staff to extend sympathy to the families of the two firefighters and also to express gratefulness to the firefighters of Engine 7 Ladder 10 fire department. Truebright gave donations and created cards and posters to show their love and care to these people who are serving our community unselfishly.

Last April 25, we had a chance to visit the fire department. Fire fighters Joe Adams, Gil Newton, Vince Ortiz and Craig Howard, welcomed us and without hesitation answered some of our questions. Following is the Q&A portion of our visit:

Q: On the daily average, how many times do you help people?

A: Every day is different. We don’t just help people when there is fire. They also call us for other reasons like accidents. While waiting for the medics, the fire department mostly responds to the 911 call first especially if the area is closer to us than the paramedics.

Q: When did you know that you want to be a firefighter?

A1: By the age of 13, I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter.

A2: I was a paramedic for 10 years and I was working with firefighters. I thought their job is a lot cooler, a lot better so after 4 years I switched to be a firefighter.

A3: I started as a volunteer and I love it. It’s not a regular job. When I was younger, I already saw myself as a fire fighter.

A4: For me, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.

Q: What advice can you give to those who want to become firefighters?

A; You have to be prepared to see the worst, in 20 minutes you will see someone’s life is taken away. This is a dangerous job but we love what we do. We have to overcome fear to save somebody’s life. You have to be quick to respond to the call. In less than 4 minutes, our fire truck must roll out when someone needs our help. One must be ready and flexible especially with the change of schedule. Sometimes we work days, sometimes night. You have to be ready to lose your life any minute to save somebody.

The firefighters were so grateful to our school’s outreach project. They were encouraged and their spirits were lifted up because of our love and support. They were so touched by our actions and deeds. The whole process of this Outreach Project taught our student leaders something and this was one experience that they would surely not forget. Here are some of their thoughts:

Lakeeta Joyner

Being a leader at Truebright Science Academy Charter School, I feel obligated to make sure our students are aware of what’s happening in our community. When I heard about the Tragedy at Engine 7 Ladder 10 firehouse in Kensington I decided that it was my duty to make it known amongst my peers. Yes, I am student government president. No, I don’t feel like it. I feel more like I am the voice for our students. I feel like when there’s an issue or a concern amongst the student community, it is my obligation to voice them out.

When Mrs. Flores came to me with the plans for spreading the word about the Engine 7 Ladder 10 tragedy, I knew I had to be the one to spread the word, along with the other student community leaders, Kashaay Brown, Zane Spence, and Brianna Rush. These three ladies were also leaders who amongst a few other students I see branching out and becoming positive role models for the school. As we went around collecting donations, making cards, and getting the banners signed, we noticed that there were many students interested in being a part of this outreach.

During this outreach project I have had the chance to appreciate the heroic duties of a fireman even further than before, everyday firemen attend work not knowing the outcome of the day. On April 25, 2012 when we went to the fire house we had the chance to explore the lives of the firemen, we got to sit in the fire truck, see their bedroom, and their work out center. Also we were able to have a Q&A and I personally learned a lot about them. They are like a family, sort of like the family we have here at Truebright!

Kashaay Brown

Being one of the leaders for the Ladder 10 Engine 7 Community Outreach has been a wonderful lesson and experience to me. I felt uplifted to help the families in need, it felt even better to show Sgt. Sweeney’s and Lt. Neary’s bravery throughout my school. I got to see how a whole school could come together as one to help someone else’s family. I know that the cards may cheer up both families and our donation will help the Ladder 10 Engine 7 family. It was a joy to see everyone sign his/her name on the posters that we created (Lakeeta Joyner, Brianna Rush and Zane’ Spence). I really hope that the Ladder 10 Engine 7 family will display them in a place where everyone can be inspired to also acknowledge their courage and service to the community.