When the mainstream media plays out the stories and view of firefighters striking, the images they conjure up are ones of greed and inflexibility – the unwillingness to ‘modernise’ and embrace change. This could not be further from the truth. Firefighters are the champions of change.
They have been for decades.
The images I conjure are of them riding fire engines, at community fates or stood on picket lines fighting for their rights and the rights and safety of people in their communities. They are images of their families, who worry every time they leave the house for work in the morning. Their children, the ones that they dare to dream bigger for than they had dreamt for themselves and the children of families they may never meet; the ones sitting on fire engines, squirting hosereels and dressing up at school visits in mini fire uniforms – dreaming of one day doing the job that they admire so dearly in their youth. The ones they rescue from fires or the families whom they reunite when they are rescued from car accidents.
They are the ones that firefighters fight and strike for, whether they realise that overtly or not. They are post guardians, for future firefighters, they are the silent protectors who respond whenever we call them. They can be brash, yet tender, they can be serious but full of laughter. They see the good in people most would dismiss, they make mistakes, but who doesn’t? They are human, like you or I, just people who joined a career, to serve their community in the best way they know how, on a fire engine. A teacher, a friend, but a hero? A saviour? These are not their words. A firefighter is not in it for the accolades, but to give us a second chance if we have to dial the 9’s, they will fight for us, it’s in their name and it is why we should fight for them.
That is why the government should honour their deals, they are not after a hero’s pension, just what they had signed and agreed. They deserve better and so do we.