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Fire department lights up to show support

Morris wants to provide hope in a trying time

SOLON– The bell at the Solon United Methodist Church tolled the hour.
The doors at the Solon Tri-Township Fire Department were raised and the lights on the emergency vehicles and a Johnson County Sheriff’s Office cruiser were turned on.
A handful of department members, residents and the media watched as firefighters streamed the event live on Facebook.
“We’re lighting things up on a Wednesday night for five minutes,” firefighter Greg Morris said. “Represents a lot of things in our world right now. Hope. Hope for our family, hope for friends, hope for our community, hope for a state, hope for a nation.”
The lights represented emergency medical services, fire and law enforcement personnel to let residents know, “That in time of need we will always be there,” Morris said.
The display was also to honor the efforts of health care workers in response to the national and local COVID-19 outbreak, he added during the live stream.
“We know they’re working right now to help this mess we’re in. To help us all get better quicker,” he said. “Help bring a little peace to our lives and we appreciate their efforts each and every day.”
Morris said the agencies were hoping for a better future.
“Hope that we all can maybe make everyone’s lives a little better once we get through this,” he remarked.
He encouraged residents to leave their porch lights on to let their neighbors know they’re okay and looked forward to a time when the community could gather together again. Until then, he added, best wishes.
“Stay safe. Stay healthy,” he said. “And let’s just try and help each other a little bit more than what we have before and we’ll all get through this.”
Around Johnson County, the state and the nation, other fire departments were sending their own message of hope.
Departments in North Liberty, Swisher, Tiffin, Lone Tree and Hills participated, and Morris said the idea was picked up across Iowa, as well as in North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, New Jersey and Arizona.
The notion came to Morris when he was at Sam’s Main Street Market.
Fundraising for the Solon Firehouse campaign gave him a different perspective, he said. People in the store and on the street looked like they needed a boost.
“We need a little something,” he said. “We need a little hope, we need a little strength, so that’s kind of how it started.
“I never envisioned that it would grow like it did,” he added. “I mean, it went all over, which is great.”
His initial thought was to let people know the fire department would always be there when needed, but he realized there needed to be a show of support for everybody on the front lines, from healthcare providers to grocery store clerks to truckers delivering supplies.
He posted the idea on Facebook and Twitter accounts and passed it on to the Iowa Firefighters Association, where it apparently blossomed.
Some departments took trucks around town, some had residents drive by the fire station and honk their horns in support.
The live stream generated a lot of likes and good wishes, he said, some from former residents.
He expressed his appreciation to the Methodist Church for joining in and ringing the bells while the doors opened.
“It was a cool thing,” he noted.
The Solon department has been busy, he said, although not as busy as recent peaks. Firefighters responded to one call hours before the ceremony at the station and three the day before. The department is doing its best to keep safe on calls, he assured.
Fundraising for the Solon Firehouse campaign has been suspended and the department will keep an eye on the situation as the annual Fireman’s Breakfast approaches in May.
It’s been a stressful time for many, but Morris hopes the community can stay united and healthy.
“Maybe if it did nothing else, it gave us all a little hope,” he said of the event. “Just tell everybody to keep their heads up. Help your neighbors. We’re going to keep on keeping on.”