By Karen Daniels
The Fourth of July involves many traditions for Americans. Parades, barbeques, and fireworks to name a few. Firefighters are also a big part of this holiday. Their shiny red trucks in the parades, their presence at fireworks shows. This year at the 38th Annual July 3rd & 4th Celebration, the City of Stafford will honor first responders and military veterans for their dedicated jobs of protecting and serving our nation and our cities.
As you know, four weeks ago the Houston Fire Department suffered a horrific event. Four lives were lost and three lives will be changed forever. Stafford’s Fire Chief, Larry DiCamillo, also a Houston firefighter, was at that scene on May 31, punching holes in the motel roof to create an exit route for the flames. He said, “it was a regular day at the Station” when the call came in at 12:07. Southwest Houston is an area known for having a large number of multi-family properties, and consequently large fires, but nothing on the way to the scene made anyone think this was not going to be a routine call. From the time Station 68’s crew arrived on the scene to the time the mayday call went out over the radio, approximately 14 minutes had passed. Larry did not see or hear the tragedy from where he worked, but 45 minutes later they learned the awful fact that four firefighters had lost their lives, and two were from their crew. Anne Sullivan was raised in Sugar Land and wanted to be a firefighter since she was 17. For three years she was a volunteer firefighter with the City of Stafford before becoming a full-time firefighter with HFD. She “enjoyed helping others” and had “plans to return to the Stafford Fire Department.” Robert Garner was a military veteran who served two tours in Iraq before becoming a Houston firefighter. “He was the Tasmanian devil, always working and doing something” when at the station.
First responders and military put their lives on the line everyday to protect us. How do they deal with the constant threat of danger and loss? Larry said, “You have to acknowledge that it could happen. Training and preparedness makes the difference. Our purpose is to have a positive effect on society. And we keep moving forward.” There is a strong bond and camaraderie with firefighters and military that most careers don’t have. They work together, eat together, live together, play together. When they lose one of their own, it helps just being around one another. As for the community support for these firefighters, Station 68 is very appreciative and said, “the outpouring went far beyond and deeper than anything we could have imagined.”
Be sure to attend the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra’s 4th of July performance at the Stafford Centre where these great men and women will be honored. Fireworks will follow at 9:00pm.