Fire Fighters Reflect

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JEFFERSON CITY- Firefighters gathered at the state capitol Tuesday to celebrate a year of dedication and selflessness. Missouri firefighters from all over the state reflected on the EF-5 Joplin tornado last May, a record-breaking blizzard, record flooding, and their role in each of the disasters during 2011.

Joplin Fire Department Chief Mitch Randles recognized firefighters who responded to the tornado last May. 37 search and rescue teams and ambulance districts helped during the days after the tornado. Randles presented different action groups with medals to thank them for their service; including the Springfield Fire Department, the Missouri Task Force, the Kansas City Search and Rescue, the Northwest Arkansas Task Force, the Oklahoma Task Force and the Tulsa Search and Rescue. "A heartfelt thank you from my city, my fire department and me personally for your incredible service," Randles said. "We never could have done it without you."

Department of Public Safety Director Jerry Lee and State Fire Marshall Randy Cole were among the speakers at the event. They discussed the difficulties with funding fire departments and the importance of Missouri supporting a mutual aid agreements. Cole said the budget is always a concern, "If there is a natural disaster that happens on the other side of the state, the first question I ask is, 'can we afford to go? Can we afford the gas it takes to get there, somewhere for my men to sleep, and for truck maintenance? This shouldn't be the first thing that comes to mind."

After the event and presentation of medals, firefighters lined up to enjoy lunch. Local Engine 757 in Saint Charles has been grilling on Fire Fighters Day for ten years. They say it's a way to thank state legislators who work hard to fund their mission.