TOWNSEND -- Five-five, five-five.
When a fire department alarm bell is toned as such, it is done out of remembrance, honoring brave firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice. On Sunday, Townsend Fire and EMS Department members and about 35 friends, family members and residents gathered to listen to that solemn ringing beside the firefighter's memorial
As Deputy Chief David Roy gripped the bell's yoke and began the ringing, it hushed the crowd and seemed to drown out the noise of traffic passing by on Main Street as a wreath was laid behind the the flower-laden memorial.
"This calling is not easy," said Senior Chaplain Rev. Kevin Patterson of the First Baptist Church in West Townsend. "It amazes me to see a combination of thorough and consistent training, god-given ability and enthusiasm in the love of what they do, they are gifted, or maybe just a little crazy, to be so fit and ready in a crisis."
It is organizational, physical and technical knowledge, Patterson continued, that when used in unity, "the results are evident, they serve others in times of great need."
One of the stalwarts was Lt. Donald Amadon, a 30-year member of the fire department who passed away last year after an eight-month battle with cancer. He was recognized by Lt. Gary Shepherd, who described a recent trip he had taken to his grave at Riverside Cemetery.
"It is marked by a nautral rock from the farm, a symbol of his timeless presence and something that
Amadon owned and operated Brookside Farms, a place Shepherd said reflected his compassionate personality, somewhere "he loved so much because it was vibrant and full of life."
"He cared for kids and animals who walked on the farm and was fully engaged, he would do things with both feet in," Shepherd said.
When it came to his duties as a firefighter, Amadon's commitment showed in "any time of day and any type of weather," Shepherd said.
"And complete with a humorous observation or comment once the danger had passed, after a brush fire or house call," he said. "Those comments made his personality and he made Townsend a little better and a little safer."
Like the quiet sound of the bagpipes as the department began mustering down Turnpike Road from the Spaulding Memorial School, Patterson said the services and people on the fire department seem "invisible most of the time."
"Average citizen doesn't see the fire fighters or EMS, then, there they are, when a chimney fire occurs or an airbag comes out," he said. "You call on reserves of strength within yourself, like God's strength.
"You may or mot consider yourself a person of faith, but his sacrifice is the greatest gift to us all."
Recalling the nor'easter last Oct., Department Chaplain Shayna Appel recalled visiting the fire house after a fatal fire.
"I asked the guys, 'how long has it been since you slept?'" she said. "They said it had been 48 hours.
"For some, they had to go to work the next morning, and those that could, were going back out to survey more downed trees."
Fire Chief Donald Klein called firefighters, past and present, heroes, and proceeded to read the Firemen's Prayer, describing those who subscribe to a "greater love that is a willingness to lay down life for friends."
"They move heaven and earth for saving lives, and we do everything in our power for saving lives," he recited. "When I am called to duty, whenever flames may rage; give me strength to save some life, whatever be its age.
Help me embrace a little child before it is too late, or save an older person from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout, and quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me, to guard my every neighbor and protect his property."
Their memory and sacrifice lives on, added Deputy Chief Roy.
"That legacy cannot be minimized, so we celebrate the life they lived and share with us and pass on their courage to next generation of firefighter and EMTs," he said.
The department's newest recruits and those EMTs that were on-duty Sunday were in attendance. In closing, Appel said that this firefighter Sunday is important across the entire state.
"This past year difficult one, the bell toned all to often, but it was not in vain, loosing those whom we love," she said. "As you go, believe in peace and create peace."
Follow Luke Steere at twitter.com/LSNashobaPub.