Wayne Powell

There’s a house in our small community that’s more than just a house. Even though it’s a house right along Main Street, in fact, many pass it by, never thinking about its importance.

In some ways, it may seem to be a house not all that different than your home. However, it’s a house that is very different than most others in Emmitsburg and beyond.

It’s a house where you can hear the phone—a rather special phone, it is at that—and you can’t escape its ring no matter where you might try to hide, for you always have to answer it, even at dinner time.

The nature of the chores in this house are, at times, pretty much just like everyone else’s: wash the floors, clean the sinks, dust the shelves, run the washer, scrub the toilets, put away pots and pans, shop, keep records, pay the bills;  yet, it’s a house where training videos—not DVD or VHS movies—line the shelves on either side of the television.

For those who reside there, it’s their “Home away from Home,” as they say. And, it’s about the only house in greater Emmitsburg where the announcement “fire” does not lead to panic. In fact, that term, “fire” just means it’s time to go to work.

But, in this house, there’s something very special…no, it’s not a collection of photos—albeit, some of those old pictures take the folks back, just like photos in your albums do—and it’s not the computers or the TV’s or even the super large red machines that fill much of the first floor. No, it’s the people there who make it so special. The fact that they’re committed to helping others is what makes this house so very special, indeed. All in all, it’s a pretty amazing place, especially in these interesting times in which we all now live. As you’ve likely already figured out by now, we’re talking about a house that is actually YOUR house, too. Yes, that’s right, the community’s firehouse!

Those at this house, the firehouse, certainly are “family,” and just like everyone else’s family, they have some interesting characters, too. Plus, just like you, they take pride in their home and all that’s in it—especially the people!

Little ol’ fire station number 6 runs with the pace and precision of a beehive. The long-ago Norman Rockwell-like image of those who inhabit houses like this community’s firehouse no longer sit around playing cards or checkers all day—an image of a by-gone era.

In fact, sometimes they feel they have enough to keep them busy even if they never got called out—with training and paperwork, and fundraisers and paperwork, and cleaning and paperwork, vehicle maintenance and paperwork, and the endless certifications and equipment checks, and, of course, in case it wasn’t mentioned, there’s all that paperwork, too.

Their radios blare, yet they all seem to block out most of the routine buzz, unless it’s something close or unusual or profound; then, yes, they listen intently. And, they always listen for Number 6 to be called upon when it’s their turn to help others in danger. They are proud to do their duty, just like firefighters in our country have been doing for more than 375 years—yes, all the way back to Peter Stivincent in New Amsterdam, or New York as it’s called today.

What’s amazing is that those in that house do what they do for free. Yep, no pay! No stipend, no fee per call, not even an honorarium for preparation time or travel time.  And, oh yes, they still make house calls!

If you’re a person who doesn’t like to be woken up from a sound sleep, or someone who just can’t handle working outdoors on bitter cold winter nights, or for that matter, blistering hot summer afternoons, or perhaps you are just one of those who needs time to ponder, plan, sort, think, re-think, then review your options before initiating an action, then this sometimes hectic pace necessary for the required rapid-fire decision-making may be a bit much to handle.

But, thank goodness there are those who somehow take all these and many other challenges in stride and are willing to do the right thing. In fact, a review of history of this region finds that there’s been these type of folks here for well over 135 years, who have been, and still are, there when the community calls upon them for help.

That house, and those in it, routinely make a difference in the lives of others, even those they don’t know. The men and women of this particular house stand ready—on a moment’s notice—to help when and where needed. And, the rest of us are so very lucky they do.

If you would like to better understand the critical role that volunteer ‘First Responders’ in communities just like ours do every day to help others, I encourage you to watch this superb 5-minute animated video (https://vimeo.com/223485932) that tells those in the community the value of their volunteer fire and emergency services personnel.

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