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It’s our turn to lend a helping hand

We’re no strangers to natural disasters here in Minot. The details of the 2011 flood and other natural disasters and accidents in our community have been well-documented through the years. But so have the overwhelming examples of support our community has received in those times of need.

When Minot needed help, agencies and volunteers from across this great country reached out with assistance ranging from financial help to cleanup work to construction expertise. Volunteers have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with us cleaning up after disasters. Volunteers have helped our residents reconstruct their childhood homes and their businesses.

Now, it’s our turn to extend a helping hand.

Four members of the Minot Fire Department left town on Tuesday, and have arrived in Oregon where they and other North Dakota firefighters will assist crews battling raging wildfires that have killed numerous people, destroyed entire towns, and scorched thousands of acres.

Capt. Casey Meadows, Senior Firefighter Will Decoteau, Senior Firefighter Jason West, and Senior Firefighter Jon Hanson volunteered to represent Minot in the growing group of firefighters from across the United States that is gathering in Oregon and other western states. They are ready to assist in any way they can.

As expected, there were many Minot firefighters who volunteered for the 18-day trip, according to Assistant Fire Chief Lonnie Sather. But the request was for staffed equipment, so the four firefighters and Minot’s Engine 1 was what we could provide while maintaining proper fire protection for our community.

Meadows, Decoteau, West, and Hanson joined other firefighters in Oregon, where their primary mission will include structural fire support, and potentially responding to calls for service in communities that have lost their own fire departments because of the wildfires. The Minot crew won’t be fighting wildfires, as they haven’t been trained for that specialty, but they will be supporting those crews that are on the front lines.

If you’re surprised that firefighters from across the United States, including Minot, quickly volunteered to help their colleagues, then you must not personally know any firefighters. Their profession is all about protecting communities and people from the threat of fire, whether it’s in Minot or any of the countless communities halfway across the country that have been devastated by wildfires.

We’re proud that the Minot Fire Department responded to this call for help. It’s what they do every day on the job. Firefighters and law enforcement officers are a different breed. When other members of society flee from danger, whether it’s a fire or criminal activity, these men and women routinely run toward the danger. Yes, I know it’s their job, but we must never take our first responders for granted. Every time you hear a siren, remember that those folks responding to an emergency are human beings who have chosen a life of service, despite its inherent dangers. They are not nameless, faceless employees. They are our fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends, and neighbors.

In this case, they are Capt. Casey Meadows, Senior Firefighter Will Decoteau, Senior Firefighter Jason West, and Senior Firefighter Jon Hanson. To them and their families, our community offers its unwavering support for this mission and your ongoing duty of protecting Minot. You are in our collective thoughts until you all return safely from this call for service.

God speed, and stay safe.

Sincerely, City Hall.

You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.

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