Every Firefighter Has a Story.

It should be no secret by now that I’m big on this whole concept of storytelling in the fire service.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that storytelling has never been more imporant than it is now as a way of sharing our experiences, perpetuating our values and passing down our rich history and traditions.

That’s why I created www.runtothecurb.com as a means of not only sharing my stories which have been writing themselves over the past 30 years, but more importantly, as a platform for others to tell their stories as to what brought them to the fire service and what keeps them going day-to-day and year-after-year. Now a natural extension of that web site, I was offered the tremendous opportunity to develop Firefighter Storytellers — an Internet radio show that gives a voice to those stories that form a common bond amongst us all.

My guests so far have included a volunteer firefighter-turned emergency room doctor-turned author; a magazine editor and well known fire service leader, and a local firefighter who has dedicated his life to giving back to those who will one day be his replacements.

While their backgrounds, their experiences and the paths they take in life may differ somewhat from yours; I’m sure you’ll agree that their stories sound very familiar and similar to your own. That’s the beauty of storytelling in the fire service: Whether it’s the beginning, the middle or the end — all of our stories share a common thread with others like us who are lucky enough to do what firefighters do.

My next show features the story of a young man I’ve only met once but who made a significant impression on me from the start. He’s never forgotten his roots and he’s dedicated himself to continual learning and training others, absorbing and sharing information as a life-long process.

Nick Martin has served as a career/volunteer firefighter in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia; and currently serves in the District of Columbia. He is a frequent presenter and trainer with www.tradtionstraining.com and is an author of articles dedicated to making us better and safer at what we do.  I look forward to sitting around the virtual kitchen table with Nick, swapping stories and forming new bonds.

I hope you can join Nick and I and the FirefighterNetcast crew for another great episode of Firefighter Storytellers on Thursday-October 14th at 9pm EDT. I’d greatly appreciate your efforts to download and the distribute the show flyer. And remember, if you can’t listen live and be a part of the online chat during the show, you can always download the podcast from the FirefighterNetcast site or iTunes after the fact.

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While much of my work here and at www.runtothecurb.com could be considered light hearted human interest stories, the story I share this week does not have a happy ending. Last Monday morning started with a tragedy in our neighboring fire district and this time it took one of our own.

Firefighter Ron Wattie was struck and killed by a school bus while crossing a state highway to catch a bus of his own which took him to work at Buffalo General Hospital every day. Ron was a husband, father and fellow firefighter for more than 25 years with the Highland Hose Volunteer Fire Company here in the Town of Evans. Although we were in bordering fire companies, our paths didn’t cross that often and I didn’t know him as well as others. Nonetheless I’ve always known Ron as a quiet, unassuming type of guy who always had a smile and an unwavering willingness to help others.

A series of unusual circumstances extends the tragedy of this accident deep into our community. Ron’s daughter is continuing his legacy of service as a Fire Explorer with Highland Hose and his son was one of the first responders at the scene which unfolded only a few hundred feet from his fire station. And, there were middle and high school kids on the bus at the time of the traumatizing crash. Ironic and unfortunate, Ron and the bus driver were well acquainted with each other for many years. Thus, there are lots of folks suffering from this horrible incident.

His tragic death shocked our small town and brought hundreds out to remember a man who served his first family and his fire service family well. His loss cuts deeply and his contributions to our community will be sorely missed. Our brotherhood mourns.

It’s only fitting that this week’s Firefighter Storytellers show will be dedicated to Highland Firefighter Ron Wattie and the many others just like him who have written their lives as a story of service to others.

Listen in. Call in. Tell your story.

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Firefighter Storytellers is an Internet radio talk show based on the web site: www.runtothecurb.com, hosted by Tiger Schmittendorf and produced by FirefighterNetcast.com on the BlogTalk Radio Network. ©2010 www.tigerschmittendorf.com

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Tiger Schmittendorf

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