R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I know it’s kind of cheesy, but as I observed firefighters lowering themselves down a rocky cliffside several months ago, that famous Aretha Franklin song played on loop in my head. More accurately, the two lines that I can recall played on repeat.
(Here’s a short video from that day.)
I was on assignment and this was my fourth outing to observe these guys—and one incredible woman—train for potential emergencies. From the back of a Jet Ski at Pier 1 to a dusty hill in Launiupoko to a burn unit in Kahului to a cliffside along the north shore, I was that pesky reporter tagging along and asking questions. I wanted to know what it takes to be a Maui County firefighter. The short answer: lots of training.
Then, just as this story about the Maui County Fire Department was about to hit the newsstands, I read about an Oʻahu fireman who died during training exercises. Having just spent time with our local firefighters, this story hit too close to home.
I hesitated to write this blog post and didn’t want to dwell on this tragedy, but I’ve ultimately concluded that his death makes this story more poignant and meaningful—it’s a chance to meet and hear from some of the guys who risk their lives for the public good, every day. They are not supermen. They are men in uniform who work to save human lives—meanwhile risking their own.