A volunteer firefighter sent KWTX a letter by e-mail explaining his own thoughts on being a volunteer and responding to such emergencies. It touched many of the staff here in our own newsroom and he has given us permission to share it with all of you.
E-mail from Derek Maler:
My name is Derek Maler and I am a Volunteer Firefighter that arrived moments after the explosion. I don't really agree when they use heroes to describe first responders . Not here. We are just dads, moms and friends helping someones brother, sister or child. I have been approached a few times from other big city media and they all ask the same question. "Why do you do it if your not compensated" so i asked if they live in an area where VFD are. They replied no. So I understand the reason for asking. Anytime it seemed dangerous to enter I thought about my girls in there and I hope someone would risk their life to save them. If something happened to me during a rescue operation and my girls lost me I know it would bring them honor to know why. If karma is true, its also positive. I would hope if I could not be there, someone that feels the same way would go after my girls. Volunteers have a certain level of compassion for others. Same reason we lost some at the initial explosion. They knew the dangers, the risk and the collateral if it blew. They decided then they may pay the ultimate price to try to save it from the explosion. It upsets me to see the reporters asking if they could have done something different. These men knew it may blow, that's why they started telling people to go and clearing out the Nursing Home. Yet they still fought the fire trying to prevent that from happening. If you want to call someone an hero they should be remembered with the highest honor. They gave their lives to try to prevent it and unfortunately it was to late. Mr hindsight will always be right and have an better way. What it does not have is bravery, courage, or sacrifice. Nor the pressure of having to make split second decisions in the mix of a time when most would freeze up. I would like to personally think all the VFD who came from hundreds of miles and all search and rescue. To answer the question of why....... I love my community and even if I am not on the west VFD I grew up here, live here, and love the people. I don't do it for money, recognition or personal satisfaction. I do it because I am able bodied, trained and good with pressure. The volunteers and other emergency services has one goal, keep the numbers of survivors up and the number of lost down. I think the out come will tell you everything else. God Bless West and all its citizens. I have always been proud to call it home and after this disaster I know why.
Derek Lee Maler West, TX