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Florence firefighter dedicated to helping people in need

Florence firefighter Lance Grabill stands near a fire truck in Florence, S.C., on Tuesday, Aug. 2 2022. Grabill said his desire to become a firefighter was sparked when he realized that people needed help.(Taylor Ford/The Morning News via AP)

FLORENCE, S.C. (AP) — Lance Grabill said his desire to become a firefighter was sparked when he realized that people needed help.

“Being a firefighter allows me to help people during their most frightening times,” he said.

Grabill has been a firefighter for three years. He moved to South Carolina from South Florida.

“I want to make people’s day a little brighter in their time of need,” he said. “People are going through a lot. There are people out there who are really going through hard times and someone has to help them and I enjoy helping.”

Helping people is the best part of the job, he said.

“We are helping people that are truly in need,” he said. “We are not talking about people who kind of need help, we are talking about people in emergency situations.”

Grabill said after completing his first call as a firefighter, there was no turning back.

“The instant gratification I received had me hooked,” he said. “It’s not like building a house and you have to wait months to see the finished product. You are able to see your impact immediately. When you are done with a call you see how you helped that person and saved their house or property.”

Grabill said he is a family man and treats people as if they are his son, mother, daughter, grandmother, grandfather, sister or brother.

“I try to put myself in their shoes,” he said. “If I was in that situation I would hope that a guy like me would be there to assist my family with confidence and compassion in their time of need.”

Being a firefighter changed his life, he said.

“Being a firefighter helps me release a lot of energy and you are able to do and see a lot of things that other people would not be able to see,” he said.

Grabill said millions of people watch television shows to see situations he is faced with every day.

“We get to do those things that people are watching on television every day,” he said. “It eases your aggressions and life tension because of the physical activity and it gives your life true fulfillment.”

Grabill said being a firefighter increased his self-worth.

“Self-worth is not something you can purchase,” he said. ‘The things you do on an everyday basis is what makes you happy.”

“My worth increases every time I help someone,” he continued. “After I help someone I am on an entirely different level in my mind. The self-worth I have gained is more important than any monetary amount you can offer me.”

Grabill said self-worth is an important quality to showcase to your families and children.

You have to take pride in yourself, he said.

“Take pride in your work, take pride in your job and whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability. That is self-worth,” he said.

Grabill said he takes all calls seriously from someone needing help about chest pains or someone who just got out of a bad auto accident.

“I treat all calls the same and treat them with a level of seriousness because you never know,” he said.

Grabill said the hardest part of his job is watching families lose things that are irreplaceable.

“I always try to put myself in their situations,” he said. “It really bothers me when people lose things that can not be replaced. A couch or TV can be bought again, but pictures and documents are important. When we see documents and pictures that are important to your family and close to your heart, we try hard to take those things out of the home and preserve them.”

Grabill said a firefighter’s job is more than putting a fire out.

“We run everything from minor medical to major medical,” he said. “Firefighters are also called if there’s a smell of gas. We also run electrical hazards. We don’t just run fire calls. People assume that when they hear the fire truck sirens that we are going to a fire, but that is not always the case.”

“Our job is full gamut,” he said.

Grabill said a lot of people believe firefighters are sitting around doing nothing.

“We train a minimum of four hours every day in addition to running calls,” he said.

Before becoming a firefighter, Grabill said, he tinted windows.

“Being a firefighter broke up the everyday monotony of tinting windows,’ he said. “We work 24 hours on and we are off for 48 hours. With those 48 hours off you are able to get a second job and spend time with your family.”

Grabill said he was meant to be a firefighter.

“This is not one of those jobs that you can stick out if you don’t like it,” he said. “If you don’t like it, you are probably going to go somewhere else. Being a firefighter is one of those jobs you have to love doing because it takes a lot of work and focus.”

Grabill said this is not a job you can perform halfway. He said it takes complete effort to do the job well.

“If that radio goes off at 2:30 a.m., we are up, out of bed, and in the truck in 10 seconds,” he said.

Firefighters everywhere have the same passion and mission, he said.

“I am a part of a bigger team worldwide,” he said. “We are all passionate about serving our community and helping others.”

Grabill said he is not afraid to lose his life in the line of duty. He said firefighters are trained to handle life-and-death situations.

“It’s natural to think about it, but I am not afraid of it,” he said. ” No, I don’t want it to happen and I take all of the necessary precautions to prevent that from happening, but this is a job where you have to put fear aside.”

Grabill said a firefighter’s job is to help people who are already afraid and it does not benefit the situation for a firefighter to be afraid.

“People are already in frightening situations and they need someone who is calm and can get the job done,” he said.

Grabill said people should not fear the unknown because things happen that are out of our control.

“Accidents happen every day,” he said. “I could do this job for 20 years and not get hurt on the job and I could be driving to work tomorrow and something bad could happen.”

“I can’t live my life in fear when I could get hurt just as easily or more by something outside of my control.”

Grabill said he is always relaxed and calm because being calm allows you to see a situation clearly.

“If you panic you aren’t able to think clearly and you need to be able to think clearly in all situations,” he said. “You have to remain calm and I always tell myself that the situation I am in could be worse.”

Grabill said the best thing to do in life is to loosen the reins and allow life to take its course.

“I feel blessed to be able to help people,” he said. “Those are the things I focus on. I could be in a worse situation where I wouldn’t be able to help anybody and that is how I remain calm. I remind myself that things could be worse and I press forward.”