Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s Legislative Column for Sept. 29, 2020

Lighting Up the Night

The old saying goes, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” I’d like to add “and probably a firefighter too.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2019, a fire department in the United States responded to a fire somewhere in the country every 24 seconds, responding to a total of nearly 1.3 million fires. These fires caused roughly 3,700 civilian deaths, 16,600 civilian injuries and $14.8 billion in property damage. You can be sure those numbers would be much worse without the hard work of our firefighters.

Whether it’s battling wildfires out west, responding to medical emergencies or saving homes and businesses right here in Missouri, firefighters are often on the frontlines of keeping our communities safe. Day or night, they’re there to answer the call whenever danger strikes. And what’s amazing about firefighters is how many of them are volunteers. The National Fire Protection Association estimates around 67 percent of firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers. This just shows the extraordinary commitment these individuals have to our communities. I can’t think of many people who would run willingly into a burning building to help others just because, but I suppose that’s why it’s called bravery.

This bravery doesn’t come without a cost though. In 2018, 82 firefighters died while on duty according to information from the U.S. Fire Administration. That’s 82 people who gave selflessly of themselves to help protect others and their community. So far this year, the administration has reported 66 firefighter fatalities.

To honor these fallen firefighters, the governor ordered the Missouri State Capitol dome and Governor’s Mansion to light up red from Sept. 27 through October 3. The lighting is in coordination with the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, the official national tribute to firefighters who died in the line of duty during the previous year. This also leads us into Fire Prevention Week, running Oct. 4 – 10, which encourages people to learn more about what they can to do make their home safer, while also providing additional safety tips for all.

As we light up the night with red this week, I hope we all take the time to appreciate those who put their lives on the line for us. I know I speak for everyone in our community when I say thank you to all the firefighters out there for your service and sacrifice. Once again, thank you.

Please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at