A new poster hanging on the wall at the St. Joseph Fire Department Headquarters is hard to miss.
Students from Rushville Elementary wrote thank-you letters to the firefighters with well wishes and drawings for International Firefighters Day on May 4.
Christopher Rhodes, who has been with the department for four years, said the sign on the wall is a nice reminder that their work is making a difference.
“We’re on deck for 24 hours and we spend a lot of time away from our families, but I don’t think there’s anywhere we would rather be and we’re happy to do it and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the community,” he said. “Nobody’s on this job to get appreciation or thanks, but I think that it makes it easier to do when people are grateful and makes it easier to come to work knowing the community is behind us and backs us up for everything we do.”
Many of the notes from the first- through sixth-graders even had comments about wanting to be a firefighter when they grow up or a story of a time firefighters helped them.
“I didn’t know it’s a special day, but it’s kinda cool to walk by that and be able to see it,” Rhodes said. “Reminds you that it’s not just a faceless, nameless job, it kind of puts a little pep in your step when you find out kids are looking up to you.”
Rhodes said firefighters will respond to many calls with police and EMS crews. With so many fire stations around, it’s common for firefighters to be the first on the scene during car accidents, medical calls and fires, of course.
“We pretty much get called for everything from med calls to people trapped in houses or in trees or really any problem somebody’s got we go and solve it, so there’s no limit to what we take care of,” Rhodes said.
He said the thanks are nice, but firefighters also appreciate all the community does for them.
“It’s mutual you know, it goes back and forth. We do this all the time, and you kind of get callous to the fact that you’re really making a difference in people’s lives, and then when you see this it’s like ‘Oh wow the things we do really affect people,’” he said. “It makes it easier to come to work when you’re tired.”