Thursday, December 8, 2011, 12:34 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Worcester (Massachusetts) Fire Department

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

—John 15:13 (New International Version)

Far be it from me to contradict the Lord Jesus Christ, but I contend that it is even greater love to lay down one’s life for a complete stranger.

Veteran firefighter Jon Davies of the Worcester Fire Department did just that earlier today when he entered a burning multi-family house in search of someone reported to be trapped inside. Davies was killed and firefighter Brian Carroll was injured when part of the house collapsed on them.

Perhaps it is instinctive for someone to risk his or her life to protect a loved one. It is utterly counterintuitive to walk into a blazing inferno in search of someone unknown. But that’s what firefighters are trained to do—and are willing to do—every time they answer a call.

The Worcester Fire Department must be feeling cruelly accursed right now. Line-of-duty firefighter deaths happen every week across the United States; this year alone, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 80 firefighters have died in or as the result of injuries suffered in the line of duty—fighting fires, responding to medical emergencies, or performing other first responder work. But Davies’ death comes with an appallingly ironic twist: not only is it less than a week after the 12th anniversary of the deaths of six Worcester firefighters in a warehouse fire little more than a half mile from this morning’s blaze, but he was among those who fought the 1999 warehouse fire and came from the fire station that was later built on that site. Like Davies, the so-called Worcester 6 were searching for unidentified people possibly trapped in the flames. It’s what firefighters do.

Think about that the next time you see a fire truck, lights flashing and sirens wailing. The people inside may soon sacrifice themselves to save someone they have never met. No greater love, indeed.

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