While the full details of what occurred in the deaths of 19 elite firefighters in Arizona are sill unfolding, it is a poignant reminder of the hazards in fighting fires. Firemen are a special breed who understand the danger involved in fulfilling their responsibilities. Yet they report for duty, try to live normal lives and respond to emergencies that can expose them to harm.

Full-time and part-time volunteer firemen face equal risks. Their locations may differ, but just about every fire, or other emergency, has the potential to do harm to them. They train to be prepared to face the hazards, but unexpected things can happen, such as in Arizona, where highly trained firemen were killed.

Most communities do all they can to provide their firemen with the best equipment possible to protect them and to aid them in their duties. The risks they face are numerous because of the variety of emergencies they respond to in all kinds of weather. The volunteer firemen provide a valuable public service. They save lives and property and provide rescue services.

Whatever recognition they receive is well deserved. The wives and families of firemen, especially of the volunteer fighters, deserve our thanks also. These husbands and fathers respond, not knowing how long they will be gone and the dangers they will face. There are no holidays for our firefighters. It’s 24/7 duty for the volunteers — that is, they are on call.

We all should be thankful for all of our emergency responders. Where we have volunteer firefighters, appreciation should be directed to their places of employment. The volunteers leave their jobs to protect us and the businesses where they work. A special thanks is due their employers. As mentioned, wives of volunteer firefighters also have to be given credit for their cooperation.

All Americans mourn the loss of the firefighters in Arizona. It’s a reminder . . .