Flames break out. Vehicles collide. A person collapses. A pooch gets trapped down a steep embankment.
When life and trouble happens, who ya gonna call?
Inevitably, it is the fire department that responds first and foremost to calls such as these, and many others.
You learn pretty early on in journalism that in most emergencies the responders first on scene are not police or ambulance personnel, but the fire department.
With good reason: fire services' responses are measured in minutes and seconds – because every second really does count in an emergency.
Here in Niagara-on-the-Lake, with a population of about 18,000, we are blessed with a largely volunteer fire department but the men and women who comprise the service are pros in every sense of the word.
Led by chief Nick Ruller, a young, university-educated administrator and experienced firefighter who has brought new ideas and innovations to the role, he oversees a team of more than 100 volunteer firefighters in whom we all literally entrust our lives.
NOTL is fortunate to have such a dedicated and well-trained group of volunteers who continually prove their mettle on the job.
Whether it was last week's major house fire in Old Town, the massive all-hands-on-deck February blaze that caused millions in damage, destroying several businesses and vehicles in huge converted chicken barns on Townline Road, or any of the many run-of-the-mill calls they attend every month, our town's fire personnel do us all proud.
These men and women often risk their lives to save people and property, work in freezing cold or unbearably hot weather, clad in heavy protective gear, lugging heavy hoses. And as they did again last week in Old Town, they often stay on the scene all night to ensure everything is under control.
It is not all tragedy, to be sure, but among their triumphs, our firefighters also see more than their share of terrible scenes. Let's not forget that.
Most of us likely only think about our emergency responders when we are in need – that's only human. Because we know our fire department is there, at the ready, whenever called upon.
But let's not take these men and women for granted. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for their service and hard work.
With COVID, we won't suggest you hug a firefighter (yet), but we do ask that everyone spare a thought for the work they do and the risks they take.
And when the opportunity does arise, thank a firefighter. They deserve it.