The Herald Bulletin

April 18, 2013

Chief: Firefighters ‘take that chance’

By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin

PENDLETON, Ind. — When firefighters go out on runs, they don’t know what’s going to happen, if it will be their last. It’s not like “going to an office job,” said Pendleton Fire Department Chief Danny Gardner.

But those thoughts don’t cross many minds during a run, he said, because it’s about getting there and getting the job done.

He noted he’s kissed his wife, told her he’s going to a fire and would be home soon plenty of times. And he’s had a few close calls. But he, and his volunteer firefighters, “take that chance” because it’s the job they love, Gardner said.

Still, the news coming out of West, Texas, where a fertilizer plant explosion injured more than 160 and left as many as 15 dead, including volunteer firefighters, according to news reports, is the sort that makes Gardner “just cringe.”

“To know some guys are not going back to their families makes my stomach churn,” he said.

It doesn’t matter if a firefighter is paid or a volunteer, they all do the same job, he said, and are all family.

In West’s case, he said, firefighters faced one of the worst-case scenarios.

Fertilizer fires, any fires containing hazardous materials, are unpredictable.

“Hazardous (material fires) is one of the worst calls you can get,” he said. “It’s the unknown.”

Gardner added that the Pendleton Fire Department’s thoughts are with those affected by the tragedy.

Find Dani Palmer on Facebook and @DaniPalmer_THB on Twitter, or call 640-4847.