Last Updated on July 22, 2022 by Luke Feldbrugge
How do you appropriately say “thank you firefighters” to people who keep the community safe, run into dangerous situations, save family members, save homes, save whole forests, and the list goes on? At first glance, the obvious answer is “often and loudly.” Let’s go a little deeper and discuss some ways, and times, to show your firefighter appreciation for our firefighting heroes.
There is, of course, a day every year when the world joins together to thank and honor firefighters.
International Firefighters’ Day
This day was created in response to the loss of five firefighters in Victoria, Australia, in 1998. They were caught in a wildfire when the wind changed suddenly. One year after their loss, on May 4, the world united to recognize the courage and sacrifices of all firefighters. That’s also St. Florean’s Day, the patron saint of firefighters.
As awareness grew for International Firefighters Day, a new tradition was born. In 2002, fire stations started a Sound Off on the first Sunday in May. At noon local time, fire stations will turn on their sirens for 30 seconds, followed by a minute’s silence to honor the memory of all firefighters who have been lost in the line of duty.
International Firefighters Day is sponsored and supported by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Ways to Say Thank You Firefighters
On May 4, there are a number of ways you can show support on firefighter appreciation day.
- Porch Lights – The National Fallen Firefighters (NFFF) organization asks people to change the lights on their porch to red bulbs and light them on the night of May 4. If you purchase the bulb from their Amazon Associate site, some of the money goes to support the NFFF. You are encouraged to let them know in advance if you are participating. If you take a photo or video and post it on social media, please use #Shine4Firefighters.
- Post Photos of Your Firefighter – If a firefighter has made a difference in your life, post a photo or video of him or her on your favorite social media platform. Tell your story about that firefighter and use #ThisIsMyFirefighter.
- Encourage Your Kids to Celebrate – The website for the NFFF has a downloadable coloring page so your kids can thank a firefighter with art. Drop it by the local station or take a photo of it and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are posting your artwork on social media use #WeThankFFs.
- Involve the Community to Say Thank You Firefighters – Letting your local community know that you support firefighters is another good way to celebrate International Firefighters Day. The NFF has flyers and graphics you can download. If you are part of a neighborhood group or association, you could distribute flyers around the area or post lawn signs. If you want to go one step further, contact your city council to encourage them to make a proclamation, especially if your area has had a tough year in terms of fires.
How to Show Firefighter Appreciation All Year
One day a year is nice, but it’s hardly enough to show the kind of appreciation our firefighter heroes deserve. We can do more, throughout the year, to honor our community firefighters.
- Practice Fire Safety – Smokey Bear said it best: only we can prevent fires–and that’s not just in the forests. There are dozens of ways to make your home more safe from fires. Smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and CO detectors can keep your family safe. Of course, education about putting out fires before they get out of hand is the best deterrent. You could make a checklist of fire safety practices like this one from FEMA. It might also be a good idea to take an inventory of flammable chemicals in your home, especially your garage and workshop. The best call you can make to the fire department is the one you don’t have to make.
- Pull Over – When you see a fire engine with their lights on and horn blasting, make sure to pull over to the side of the road. In a fire or other emergency, every second is crucial. The sooner they can get to the scene, the faster they can do their job. Wouldn’t you want a fire engine to get to you or a loved one as soon as possible?
- Stop By – While most fire stations have rules on visitors, it’s easy to call and plan a visit to a station in your community. Firefighters love the opportunity to get to know members of their community and to teach fire safety to everyone. Most stations have an open house once or twice a year, which is a great time to stop by. Volunteer firefighters aren’t typically at their station all the time, but you can drop off baked goods or snacks that they can enjoy when they have meetings.
Types of Firefighters Who Deserve Our Thanks
There are lots of different roles that firefighters play in our community, our nation, and our world. They need specialized skills to help people in a wide variety of emergencies, including but not exclusively, fires. Each of these professions deserve our respect and firefighter appreciation for their service.
The kind of person that automatically comes to mind when we imagine a firefighter is high-energy, physically fit and courageous. They run toward danger when the rest of us are fleeing. They save people who are trapped by fire, but they are also communicators, educators and problem solvers. They handle increasingly technical gear and equipment in very stressful situations. They are exactly the kind of hero we all wanted to grow up to be when we were kids. Stopping by the station with baked goods is a great way to show appreciation. Donating money is also a good way to say thank you to firefighters.
Most of the firefighters in the U.S. are part of volunteer units (67%). In addition to their day jobs, they do all the training and hone the same skills as a full-time firefighter. They cannot, however, be paid an hourly rate or salary. Some get paid stipends or bonuses, but generally they are heroes that don’t get paid. If that isn’t enough to mobilize your community to make an extra effort to show appreciation, we don’t know what is.
These firefighters can do all the work, and have all the skills that regular firefighters do, but they can also attend to the medical needs of victims. Their first aid training can range from being able to immediately bandage and stabilize a patient (Emergency Medical Responder) all the way to advance life support, IVs and intubation (Advanced Emergency Medical Technician). Thanking them on the spot might be tough. Going back and thanking them after you’ve recovered will do a world of good for them and their crews.
Forest Firefighters and Smokejumpers
Wildfires and forest fires have been getting a lot of attention in recent years. The fires we face have been increasingly frequent and large, and the firefighters who are called on to fight them work long, difficult shifts in dangerous environments.
Smokejumpers are elite wildland firefighters who parachute into burning areas to combat wildfires and save national parks. These heroes save whole communities and then move on to the next emergency. Your community should make sure to thank them in a visible way – a city-wide picnic is a good gesture – before they leave for the next fire.
Canine Search and Rescue
The dalmatian is an iconic symbol for firefighters, but dogs of all shapes and sizes work for fire departments in search and rescue. They help find victims out in the woods, under collapsed buildings and even while a fire is raging. Thanking them is simple: treats. Donations to SARDUS (Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States) is a great way to help them continue their work.
Homes for Heroes Says Thank You Firefighters
The appreciation that we, at Home for Heroes, have for firefighters is a year round commitment. We have worked for 20 years to help firefighters find new homes, sell their current homes or refinance their mortgage. And, save them good money in the process. It’s our way to say, thank you firefighters for all that you do.
When firefighters are in the market for a new home, we can help by:
- Connecting them with a real estate professional committed to serving firefighters
- Connecting them with a mortgage professional committed to serving firefighters
- Providing firefighters with Hero Rewards® savings when they close on a house, and the average amount saved by firefighters is $3,000.
There’s no catch, no fees, no extra paperwork. The process is exactly the same as a normal real estate transaction. The hero just receives excellent care from our real estate and mortgage specialists, and receives their savings shortly after closing. We serve firefighters and retired firefighters, because a hero’s status doesn’t have an expiration date. Simply sign up today to be connected with our specialists in your area and they will answer your questions.
In addition to helping firefighters on an individual basis, Homes for Heroes also shows our appreciation by supporting organizations that help firefighters with other needs through our Homes for Heroes Foundation.
- Homes for Heroes Foundation Grants $10,000 to North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Foundation
- Homes for Heroes Foundation Supports Firefighters and First Responders Healing Center
- $25,000 Grant Awarded to IAFF Disaster Relief Fund for Camp Fire Firefighters
- $5,000 Foundation Grant Given to Josey Family Through Denver Firefighters Relief Fund
We also have firefighting organizations around the nation with whom we partner, including:
- National Volunteer Fire Council and Homes for Heroes Have Partnered to Help Firefighters and EMS Providers Save
- Virginia State Firefighters Association
- Texas State Firefighters’ and Fire Marshals’ Association
- North Carolina State Firefighters’ Association
We need to take time out once a year, May 4, to show our firefighter appreciation for their many sacrifices to keep us safe. Of course, saying, “thank you firefighters” more than once a year is also good for the soul of the community. Take the time, make the effort, improve fire safety at your house, and show them respect when you hear that siren behind you.
Finally, if you’ve got a firefighter in your life, let them know about Homes for Heroes.