2011/365/024: Final Alarm

This will be my final post, at least for now, about firefighting, the death of Mark Falkenhan, and my own profound respect for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day for you and me.
Mark Falkenhan was buried today. I was at school during the funeral and the procession, but I was fortunate enough to hear his “Final Alarm” over the scanner. After the service concluded at the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, Dispatch broadcast a beautiful message to all county firefighters that Mark Falkenhan had been laid to rest, and he had served his final alarm at 1513 hours.

It was very sad to hear the short message, a moment of silence of sorts. And when it was over, there was silence on the airwaves–but for a few seconds, when the ever-familiar tone sounded, and a new box was being pulled for a fire call.

That’s what was so eerie about the night he died. Between the updates, the breaking of the news of his passing, and then the information about the press conference, fire engines were still being dispatched all over the county. A brother had fallen that night, and yet they still put on their gear and kept working for you, working for me, working for their communities.

I know it’s cliche, but please: thank these men and women. Support your local volunteer houses. Let them know how much you appreciate their commitment and their service. They’re not fighting fire for any of the accolades or pats on the back; in fact, I’m betting that most of them don’t want the attention. But it doesn’t take much for us to say thanks, stop by the station every once and awhile with a few pizzas, or drop off a donation that keeps them running.

I leave you with this: Mark Falkenhan’s final alarm. This short video was just posted on Baltimoresun.com of today’s service. Rest in Peace, Mark, and Thank you.

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