Killing me with kindness
Post by Jason Plotkin
He asked me if I wanted a ride up to the house.
“You know who I’m with, right?” I said to the driver in the truck used by the Citizens Fire Company out of Fawn Grove.
“You’re with the newspaper,” he said back at me with a smile.
So I jumped into the passenger side and we drove up to the house on fire.
Let me back up and say that I have a very good relationship with the firefighters in York County. After 20 years of covering fires, you get to know some of them outside of a scene. Some I meet with handshakes, other with hugs. But when I am at a fire, it’s business. They need to do their job and I need to do mine without interfering with theirs.
It takes a while to get to Peach Bottom Township from West Manchester Township where our office is, but I was already in Felton when I got this call for a house fire. When I first got there, I took this photo from the top of the hill:
I imagined that this would be as close as I would get to the house. I began to walk down toward the driveway of the home where the fire trucks were parked so I could ask where they want me to take photos. I made it about half way down, when I met firefighter friendly.
I told him I appreciated the ride. I’d like to say that I often get rides from emergency personnel to news scenes, but I’ve walked, run and climbed my way to more scenes than I can remember. I told him I wanted to make sure that he knew who I was, so he wouldn’t get in trouble for taking someone from the media up to a fire scene.
“I took one look at your camera and figured out who you were,” he said to me. “Besides, I get in trouble all the time.”
We laughed. He drove.
He took us right up to the house where he then asked me to stand and wait. I figured once someone saw me this close, they would ask me to leave. He went right up to a man in a white helmet, the color usually worn by the chief. He pointed at me and the chief walked my way.
I thought he would ask me to move back to the road, but Chief Scott Dickson answered any question I had with patience and polite smile. He also did this while juggling the fire scene and helping the Red Cross find the 70-year-old couple who had just lost their home.
After I sent the information he gave me to my editors, I walked up behind two firefighters battling the fire and got this photo:
Once they were finished, the firefighter on the right asked me where I was from. When I told him I was with the York Daily Record, he said something to me that I’ve never heard at a fire before.
“Thank you for coming,” he said. It was like I had shown up at a dinner party at his house.
I checked in with Chief Dickson before I left and asked him if there was anything else he could tell me. After giving me information about the fire and offering to help me with a future project I was working on, he began to talk to me about the newspaper industry. He thought it would be a great idea for the YDR to team up with channel 49 out of Red Lion for better coverage of York County. To combine their television experience with our newspaper experience.
Here is a man who has enough of his own business to take care of, and he earnestly reaches out to help me with mine.
Like I said earlier, I have a very good relationship with firefighters in York County, but on this day, these guys are probably some of the nicest people I’d ever met.