What is a hero worth?

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

Nicole Apel is the wife of Detroit Firefighter Jerry Apel, assigned to Engine 9. It’s often been said that a firefighter’s wife is more of a hero than we could ever hope to be. The spouse of a firefighter holds down the homefront while their hero of a soulmate risks his life for others. They attend events alone, serve holiday dinners with an empty chair, worry endlessly when the news reports injured or killed firemen but don’t release names, and support a tired and emotionally weary firefighter when he or she gets off shift. To the spouses of firefighters, police officers, EMT’s, and military personnel, thank you! 

What is the value of a hero to you? What is the value of the hero that will come to your aid in the middle of the night? What is the value of the hero who will save your home and most prized possessions? What is the value of the hero who carefully cuts your loved one out of a severe car wreck? What is the value of a hero who will risk his life to run into a burning building to save your children?

The value of that hero is very very high for me. The reason is that 9 days a month that hero leaves his family for 24 hours a day for you. My children and I give up our most prized possession — my husband and their daddy — so he can go out and risk his life to save yours.

It seems to me that society’s value of this hero is diminishing. September 11th was not that long ago. Those men did a job that they did not have to do that day. They risked their lives to go up many floors to save as many lives as they could, many never making it back out again. The men I have met who work here in our state have that same mentality. They know what their job description is and that it may come to the point to making a decision to go in and attempt to save a life at the risk of their own. I know with all my heart that most would choose to try and save you if they felt they could, just as they did on September 11th. Please don’t forget their courage. I promise you that it still lives in the hearts of these men.


I live a very modest life. I have a modest mortgage, one car payment, no credit card debt and shop for groceries strictly with coupons. We vacation with our camper that we bought with a small savings. My kids have never flown in a plane or stayed in a hotel. My husband has never been paid great, but with my job we were able to pay our bills with a little extra for fun money so we could do things with our kids.


Recently the city has shown me just how much they value my hero. They applied to the government for a very large sum of money to help the pay the public safety officers wages, and they were granted the money. Shortly after receiving the money from the federal government, the city cut firefighter’s pay by 10 percent. They next pay period they decided to raise our health insurance costs so that our pay cut reflected close to 20 percent. I understand just as well as the next person that the economy isn’t good. My job has been severely affected also. I understand that things need to be cut but this is the problem: A firefighter with a wife and 3 children now qualifies for food stamps. What?! Is the man I send away for 24 hours at a time to run into burning buildings and to save your life worth so little that his income should qualify for food stamps? My hero husband has now had to start working 3 separate jobs to keep the bills paid and food in our kids tummies. How would you feel if you sent such a precious person in your life out every day he worked to do a job where he is risking his own life for others? Someday my husband might not come home. Some day I could receive that call that he has been hurt. I could lose my soul mate, and my kids could lose their daddy, because all he ever wanted to do was save yours. He is passionate about what he does, and I have never met a man who absolutely loves what he does more than he. We often talk about him leaving this career because he could make so much more doing something else, but he would die. His heart is so caring and compassionate that he would never be the man I married in another profession. He reflects his love for people in his everyday life and on a daily basis I am taken aback by his kindness to human kind. He gives up so much for you, holidays, Christmas morning, school events and tucking his kids in at night.

All I ask is for society to see what these men do and how much they are willing to lay on the line to do so. When you see one thank them. Support them. Fight for them. Fight for what they do every day, it matters. Fight against the manner in which these men have been treated for the last decade. Appreciate what they do and if ever you have the chance, fight for the hope that they will at least make a decent living for a decent days work. I pray you all never need the help of my husband or his coworkers, but if you do, I know that he will do whatever in his power to save you and all your loved ones.
Published with permission. (C) 2012 by Nicole Apel.
  1. Traci Kinder says:

    Very well said. Thank you! I am a wife of a firefighter also and it actually disgusts me how the politicians treat these men and have no respect for them and the job that they do. What bothers me even more is how the city, they actually work for, treats them and has no respect for them and the job they do even with the unsafe equipment the city will not spend the money to fix. It just makes me sick. I also can’t stand to hear on the Tv or from the community that how firefighters make too much money and just sit around eating. Please, come live in my shoes for one day!
    Again, thank you!

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