There was a reminder given during the Washington Volunteer Fire Company’s 160th anniversary program Thursday night that often we forget. We all know our volunteer firemen provide a professional service that we all are grateful for, and we are well aware of the sacrifices they make for our well-being.

But there are others who make sacrifices — their families!

The firemen are called out to perform their duties 24/7, often leaving family events, and regular routines that all of us have. Their wives often have to carry the family load on many days as their husbands leave on a moment’s notice to protect all of us, or to attend a training session. Children of firemen realize at an early age that their dads may have to leave at any time of the day or night. Often it is a holiday when duty calls for our firemen.

When called to a fire, accident, rescue, search mission, or whatever emergency event, families of firemen don’t know when they will return. It often is hours. There is a degree of worry for families of firemen because what they are called on to do can place them in a hazardous situation. Their duties can be very physical also, leaving them tired and emotionally spent because of what they see and do.

A thank you also is due to the companies that employ volunteer firemen. These companies cooperate, even have to make sacrifices, in allowing their employee to leave the workplace and serve the community.

The Washington Volunteer Fire Company is considered a model for other volunteer departments, as was pointed out by Bill Westhoff, the guest speaker at the dinner Thursday night at Our Lady of Lourdes banquet hall. He explained that many departments follow the example given by the Washington firemen in their operations. He pointed to the excellent leadership in the Washington department.

Westhoff should know what he is talking about since he is a veteran trainer and leader in fire department activities in Missouri. When Westhoff gives out praise, he knows what he is talking about since he has traveled all over the state, visiting countless fire departments for training and providing consultation support. He praised the Washington department as one of the best in the country, and perhaps “the” best.

To reach the status the Washington department has, it takes sacrifices by more than just the firemen! It takes sacrifices by the entire community. The department has benefited from the constant support from the city, too.