ONE OF BASEBALL’S finest, Ted Williams, once said: “That’s the life, being a fireman. It sure beats being a ballplayer. I’d rather be a fireman.”

Firefighters don’t have an easy job and yet they not only bravely protect their community when duty calls but perform good deeds that often go unnoticed.

I recently caught up with Nashua Fire Chief Brian Rhodes.

It’s been one long year and then some since the pandemic arrived, with Rhodes telling me it “hit all of us initially like a shot out of left field. We had members who contracted the virus, but so far there have been no hospitalizations and no long-term effects.”

Rhodes is proud of his department, which includes 176 uniformed members and four civilians.

Morale has been good, and policy and procedures were changed to adapt to the coronavirus’ constantly changing story, he said, but still, those on the front lines have been under immense pressure.

Firefighters are always at the ready to keep the community safe, but then “they also go home to their families and friends and don’t have the luxury of working remotely,” he said. And just like the general public, they worry about their risk of getting COVID-19 and what’s in store for all of us down the road.

Nashua Fire Rescue has had four members working at the state’s fixed vaccination sites in the Gate City since January, not only to assist the New Hampshire National Guard and the public health network, but to keep things running smoothly and to also inoculate members of the public.

And as far as putting on a mask at medical calls here in the Gate City, Rhodes said he believes that cautionary step is here to stay. “It’s an added level of protection,” he said.

Chief Rhodes, like most Nashuans, is breathing a sigh of relief now that the city has ended its almost year-long mask mandate. The Board of Aldermen recently voted unanimously to repeal the ordinance.

”I think that the city made good science-based decisions for these unprecedented times,” Rhodes said. “And now, let’s all try to get back to some sense of normalcy. I’m still, however, going to wear a mask when I walk into a store” or places that have large groups of people, he said, adding: “It’s not a big deal.”

On that note, Nashuans feel more comfortable exploring the Gate City once again. Outdoor dining, shopping, going to the park, stopping for ice cream and listening to the crack of the bat are just a few ways of marking the end of a long, tough year.

The Silver Knights, defending champions of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, are back playing at historic Holman Stadium.

Nashua Public Library cardholders can now check out four free passes to a Nashua Silver Knights home game.

Joan Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column appears every other Thursday. She can be reached at jtania512@gmail.com.

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