I found out that there were no close relatives with a key to the house and that her son had put in all sorts of bars and locks to keep her safe in her house, so I sent the fire department on the way over to her and stayed on the line chatting with her so she could stay awake and engaged, and to provide a little companionship. It was actually she who did most of the talking as the firefighters did their work to get a door off the hinges to help her out. She told me tales of Towson in her childhood, which was just after the turn of the century - the one before the Y2K - and how they would ride in horse-drawn sleighs, how the farmers came to town on Saturday afternoons for a haircut and supplies and stayed to watch a movie and have a beer or two, and how they would picnic on the courthouse grounds on sunny summer Sundays. It was all fascinating.
Her son must have hired the people who did security for Donald Trump's casinos, because it seemed to take forever to get into that house without busting things all to heck. The lady was getting chilly and tired as she related the stories to me on the phone, and then at one point, with just the slightest pause, she said, "Do you think the firemen have given up on getting in here?"
All I could think to say was, "Ma'am, you must not know any firefighters. They will not give up on getting to you."
Whether it's as a career, paid firefighter, which Falkenhan was before he left the County to work for the Secret Service, or as a volunteer, his current capacity, firefighters have always gone, and will always go to great risk to protect the lives of others. It's what they do. It's an American concept all the way, people volunteering in their neighborhood to help with fires and other emergencies, and it dates all the way back to Benjamin Franklin. It's a harrowing business, fighting fires, and yet those men and women who today are preparing to take Mark Falkenhan to his rest are ready to do the same tomorrow.