In 2012 Chip retired from the Covington Fire Department. Before his retirement he wrote a post on Facebook commenting on elected city official’s treatment of firefighters and changes that were being made to the department. Chip loved his job and the men and women that he worked with. He wanted to see those he was leaving behind taken care of and respected. Even in 2012 there were signs that he was struggling with PTSD. Almost 8 years later, our first responders still struggle to receive the care they deserve after sacrificing so much for many people who think so little of them. As a community we must come together to make the change. Below is his original post.
It is good to know that for my 26 years of service to the City as a firefighter, I am considered a lowly “Government Worker”. Not a professional firefighter, a first responder or a dedicated public servant. No…I have come to conclude from the words of those I protect and for whom I work that I am no more than a reprobate, a leach, a useless wretch that sucks the life blood out of the citizens. Before I continue, let me state that I use the first person as a narrative point-of-view. My hope is to illustrate the heart and soul of the hundreds of firefighters that serve and have served the City over the past 150 plus years. This is not about me individually. It is illustrative of the core values that many of us adhere to. This example can be demonstrated over and over again and represents a multitude of members past and present. What it does not represent are those who have not served in such a capacity and fail to possess, either through self-centeredness or lack of intestinal fortitude, the ability participate in such a career. It is interesting to note that such individuals find it necessary to discount and denigrate such a professional endeavor. So, as I was saying, it doesn’t appear to matter to those for whom I work that over 26 years I have fought hundreds of fires, some of which were the largest in Tri-State history. I have made thousands of EMS/First Responder runs. I have seen death and destruction that leaves a permanent scar on my soul. I suppose it also doesn’t matter that I have, through my actions, saved countless lives and injured myself both physically and mentally in failed attempts to do so. Apparently, it is not meaningful that I have nearly fallen to my death twice (if not for the actions of my teammates). I have been blown down steps during a backdraft; burned my knees, ears, and cheeks; been struck by falling objects; fallen through floors; injured my back numerous times and been lost and disoriented in smoke filled buildings from which I did not think I would exit. I have been shot at; spit on; puked on; and exposed to human feces, urine, blood and entrails. In one instance, I held a dying man’s guts in my hands as my partner and I tried to save his life. I have crawled over dead people trying to get to their dying friends. I have put children the same age as mine in body bags. I have seen arms and legs torn off by trains; heads blown apart by self-inflicted gunshot wounds; teenagers commit suicide by hanging themselves with electrical cord; and numerous people trapped in fires burned to death. When I am not dealing with all of that meaningless drivel; I mentor children at Holmes High School; I participate in school district events; I sit on the board of a Children’s Services entity; I coach youth basketball, soccer and direct a children’s choir. I also donate hundreds of dollars to charity, and am the adoptive parent to two young Haitian girls who were destined to a life of poverty and destitution. I go to church and sing in the church choir. I am a real person who participates in my community in an attempt to make it better. I am not just a “Government Worker” who prostitutes oneself for personal gain. I am a decent, kind, hardworking father, husband, neighbor, and public servant. If you want to dispute my right to my pay and benefits, so be it. It is your right. If you want to discuss the need to control cost…that too is certainly your prerogative. I am willing to make concessions and I already have. But, I will no longer accept the condescending, disrespectful, disingenuous and dishonest portrayal of who I am and what I stand for.