The kids were gone and it was just him and his wife at the dinner table. What he had been eagerly anticipating all day was finally at hand. Or it should be said, in his hands. That would be the fork and knife that he was getting ready to use on his favorite dish that his beloved bride had specially prepared for him as the beginning of a quiet, peaceful evening the two were planning on sharing. Then just as he was starting to “dig in” ……BEEP!!!! BEEP!!! BEEEP!!!
Without a second thought the utensils crash to the plate, he kisses his wife on the cheek and out the door he goes. The wife sits there staring at the spread before her, gives a sigh and begins to put things away. She knows he will be gone for a while, probably for most of the night and when he returns will be so worn out that eating will be the last thing on his mind.
For the past 33 years that has been the life of Scott and Lanie (Ortego) Savage. In reality, it could be said the life off every firefighter but for this moment the focus is on the Savage’s, who this past Friday were honored by First Responders from all over Jackson Parish in celebration of the retirement of the volunteer fireman, Assistant Chief and for the past five years, Fire Chief of Ward 4 Fire District in Weston.
“It is time,” said Savage in reflection of his distinguished career. “It probably has been time for a while now, but working with the kind of guys I work with is hard to walk away from. They are more than co-workers. They are like family and I have loved every minute of being around them.”
What would make a person eagerly leave the comforts of his home to bolt out into a situation fraught with danger?
“It is a good feeling to know your response to a call can make a difference from someone losing all their cherished possessions or in a worst case scenario even possibly their life or the life of a loved one,” said Savage. “Once it gets in your blood that feeling of responsibility never goes away.”
That her husband possesses that “responsibility” trait is something that helps his wife Lanie appreciate what Scott has done for over half of his life and all but seven of their 40 years of marriage.
“I am proud of way Scott has always been so dedicated and willing to sacrifice his personal time to help others in need,” said Lanie. “I can’t remember a single time in all of our years together that if he was physically able he hasn’t responded to a call.”
It is not just the Fire Fighter that makes the sacrifices though. The wife of one does as well and it takes a special person to be a willing participant in this kind of lifestyle. Just how did it make Lanie feel? Did it ever cause her concern that he might be injured or even worse, not be coming back?
“GONE AGAIN,” laughed Lanie, thinking of the many times she would be left at the house alone. “I never really worried about his safety though as I know that they are trained well and that he is with guys who care for each other and makes sure that everyone stays safe.”
Scott echoes those sentiments. “Rule #1 is that everyone comes home safe.”
When asked to reflect back over his 33 years of service Savage is proud of the way the Ward 4 Fire District has grown to allow quick response to the needs of one of the fastest growing area in Jackson Parish.
“When I first started we were just volunteers of five small stations that contained a pumper truck and a tanker each. Now we have three paid employees, seven fully equipped fire stations, and two central stations. We have also added three new service trucks, an aerial truck, (ladder truck) brush truck and even a fireboat.”
While he will no longer be as active as he once was Savage pledges to continue to stay close to his chosen profession especially in attempting to get more young people to volunteer their service. Something he states is desperately needed.
“We badly need more volunteers. When I was growing up it was the dream of almost every young boy to be a Fireman,” said Savage. “It seems the younger generation doesn’t share these same dreams.”
This is evidenced by the number of volunteers that were on the “roll” when Savage first started his career and how many there are today.
“When I first started we had 55-60 volunteers. Now we may have 35 or so. We need more young people to step up. Volunteers are the life blood of every district.”
The celebration that included a catered dinner by Linda Peevy, and a special cake made by Patricia Smith was short and sweet. The “after” party lasted a little longer as fellow Ward 4 team members reflected on the years spent together. One day all the specifics of the gala evening will be a distant memory but what should never be forgotten is how the Savage’s put the needs of their neighbors ahead of themselves. Just don’t come by to let them knowhow much you appreciate their service that at supper time. After over three decades ‘being on call” they deserve the opportunity to finally be able to finish a meal in peace.
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