At one point during an apartment building fire Tuesday in Valley Grove, volunteer firefighters from three states were battling to contain the blaze. They came from departments in Ohio, Marshall, Belmont and Washington counties.
Firefighters refer to the practice of helping each other out as "mutual aid." It is not uncommon in our area to hear radio calls seeking such assistance when major fires or other disasters occur.
And when volunteer firefighters able to respond to mutual aid calls hear them, they don their gear and go. County lines and state boundaries mean nothing to them other than, perhaps, a bit more difficulty in locating the scene of a fire.
Men and women in volunteer fire companies, and sometimes high school students whose roles in fighting fires may be restricted but whose eagerness to help is not, provide an invaluable service to tens of thousands of local residents. Most people in the Northern Panhandle and East Ohio live outside municipalities with paid fire departments, meaning they rely on the volunteers.
For generations, that faith in volunteer firefighters has been well-founded. They respond to calls in all kinds of weather and not infrequently put their own safety at risk to help their neighbors.
Usually, fire calls can be handled by the local volunteer unit, working alone. Thank heaven, situations such as that on Tuesday in Valley Grove are rare.
But it is a tribute to the fraternity of volunteer firefighters that when their brothers and sisters call for help, it materializes swiftly.
Again, volunteers from three states responded to the Valley Grove fire. Bless them all for their courageous spirit of neighborliness.