Families Support their Firefighters

The Bird-in-Hand Fire Company held its annual Turkey Dinner on November 16, 2016 at Good and Plenty Restaurant. This is a time when present Fire Company members enjoy getting together with those who have served with the Company in the past. It is truly a heartwarming event with lots of good food and great conversation.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of Lifetime Service Awards to Glen Siegrist and Les Fazekas. To recapture the value of their long years of service, family members were asked to provide photographs and give presentations.

Dawn Siegrist Waltman, daughter of Glen and Louise, spoke about the adventures that she and her siblings shared with their father during his 66 years of service. Since Glen was a plumber and a firefighter, he was constantly responding to emergencies. Even though the Siegrists’ family life was full of interrupting phone calls and fire sirens, pride in their father’s community service came through loud and clear.

As a child, Dawn held her father in high esteem because she mistakenly thought the hat that Glen wore as Fire Police Captain meant that he was in charge of all firefighters and police everywhere! Glen’s children imitated him by directing “fire traffic” in their driveway with their riding toys. After the fire at the Dairy Queen on Route 30 in the mid-70s, Glen brought home free ice cream treats for his children. They enjoyed them even though they tasted like smoke!

Jim Fazekas, the son of Les and Barb Fazekas, spoke for his family and honored his father for 45 years of service. Jim is a former Bird-in-Hand firefighter and presently works as an air traffic controller in Leesburg, Virginia, where he volunteers as a captain of a duty crew with the Leesburg Fire Company. In the past his three brothers, Steve, John, and Mike, and his mother were also involved with the Bird-in-Hand Fire Company and Auxiliary.

Jim described the scenario of his brothers and father responding to their pagers in the dark and trying to get dressed and down the stairs without waking their mother. Invariably the cats were in the wrong place at the wrong time and several got launched down the stairs along with the boys!

Dawn and Jim’s presentations underscore the importance of the support of a firefighter’s family. Balancing family and firefighting responsibilities can be complicated because of the time demands of training and meetings, the unpredictability of fire calls, and the inherent dangers of fighting fires.

A firefighter’s family plays an important support role in personal accountability, wellness, fitness, and advocacy for safety. It is a great benefit to the Fire Company to have family members who are positive and supportive. When firefighters’ families understand and accept the physical and emotional demands of the job, it helps Company morale. Whole families can be inspired by the firefighters’ unselfish service to their community and be equally committed to the cause.

We are blessed with caring families in our Company. We appreciate the many ways they support their parents, spouses, and siblings as firefighters because it is with their help that we can build a strong foundation for excellent fire protection.