Firefighting fathers inspire safety in teens

Grace Abiera, staff reporter

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Exciting, stressful and a complete adrenaline rush. Firefighter Kevin McDonagh, father of three South students, uses this characterization to describe what an emergency is like at the fire station. According to junior Molly McDonagh, her father has been serving as a firefighter at the Arlington Heights Fire Department for about 20 years.

Kevin believes his job is similar to watching a sporting event, for it is very exciting in the moment, but the outcome is unpredictable.

“Going into a fire is an unknown because any fire, no matter how small, can be deadly,” Kevin said.

According to Kevin, the station gets about eight to 10 emergency calls per day. Molly believes his job not only impacts the residents of Arlington Heights but also her family.

“My dad definitely pushes [my whole family] to be more cautious […] especially with driving […] He knows what can happen because he is sent to so many car accidents,” Molly said.

According to junior Kyle Pauly, his father, firefighter Michael Pauly, had to sacrifice much of his family life to be a fireman.

“It took a little time for my family to get used to the fact that to be a fireman my dad had to be really dedicated to his job, and he even had to work on holidays such as Christmas and Easter,” Kyle said.

According to senior Colleen McDonagh, her dad must sacrifice the little things with their family, such as their high school sports games, in order to be devoted to his job.

“Since my dad works a 24-hour shift and then is off 48 hours, he cannot duck out of work for an hour or two to come watch our games, so he has to just hear about it on the phone from us after the game is over,” Colleen said. “He definitely has made many sacrifices throughout his years as a fireman to be good at what he does.”

According to Kyle, his dad has taught his entire family safety in a way that would not be possible if he were not a fireman.

“[My dad] knows a lot and has seen a lot of bad things in his career, and his knowledge has made our entire family more aware of our surroundings,” Kyle said.

Although Michael is currently retired, he spent about 20 years serving the Glenview community in many different fire station locations, according to Kyle.

“From the station by Flick park to the station by OLPH, he went to the station that needed his help,” Kyle said.

According to Michael, his favorite memory of working as a fireman was teaching fire safety.

“We would go around to many schools in the Glenview community and teach little kids the precautions of fire and essential information on how to stay safe if a fire occurs,” Michael said.

According to Colleen, she greatly admires her dad for being a fireman.

“I have so much respect for what my dad does, and he never complains about being scared or putting his life in danger because he loves his job and has faith that at the end of the day,  God will look out for him,” Colleen said.

According to Molly, with her dad being a fireman, she is able to have a better understanding and appreciation for firefighters and policemen.

“Firemen and policemen put so much at risk for us, and I do not think I would appreciate it as much, or even think about it as much, if [my dad] weren’t a fireman,” Molly said.

Colleen believes high school students should become more aware of the sacrifices firefighters make for their communities.

“My dad loves helping people, like all firemen, and takes his job so seriously because he knows many of his calls can be life or death,” Colleen said. “So I just hope that everyone can appreciate the hard work and dedication that firemen put into their job.”

 

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