Putting their lives at risk in line of duty for others

By SAM HATCHER    For more than three hours last Friday night fire fighters from Wilson County Emergency Management Agency fought a hopeless situation.   They were dispatched to the residence of Frank and Carolyn Dudley on Coles Ferry Pike about 5 miles outside of Lebanon to battle a blaze at a metal storage barn believed started by a lightening strike.   Ironically for some of those at the scene it was not the first fire they had fought at the same address. Some 15 years ago the Dudleys, my wife's parents, lost their home and all of its contents as the result of fire.   The traumatic experience of standing there watching a fire claim personal family possessions in many ways is like watching a slow death. In the thick smoke and in the dark of night family members, neighbors and friends huddled around each other seeking comfort and all the time being thankful that there was no loss of life.   We stood there together until way after midnight watching WEMA workers tirelessly fight the blaze. They did not leave the scene until they were confident the fire had been extinguished and there was no threat at hand.   Their efforts served as a reminder to each of us that these men and women and others who serve in similar capacities with other emergency units across the county including the Lebanon Fire Department and Watertown's Volunteer Fire Department do so with distinction.   They put their lives at risk each day in the line of duty.  The Dudleys loss last Friday night included three tractors, a couple of four-wheelers, two farm vehicles, other farm equipment, personal items, some antiques, a well stocked carpentry shop, and many things that can't be replaced.   But in the end we were all thankful that what was lost was property and not life.  Remember our emergency workers.    Too often the jobs they do daily to protect and serve are overlooked as we carry out our day-to-day routines.   We should remember and be grateful that these men and women are on duty, prepared and willing to put their lives at risk for all of us. They are indeed valiant public servants.