Because these brave men and women run into burning buildings when you run out.

Think of how many ways a firefighter can die after he or she leaves home every day.

There are the predictable ways. Fire, to be sure, which destroys tissue, scars, and maims. You literally die as your fluids burn away from you.

Or smoke inhalation, in which your lungs get filled with very hot, dry air until they literally dry out and make it impossible to get oxygen into your blood.

Building collapse is another. But then you get into the unknowns. Volatile chemicals. Potentially explosive devices and materials.

There are myriad unknowns in every burning building these brave men and women run into every day across the United States. A New York City firefighter, a fire battalion chief, died in September when an explosion blew up a marijuana grow house in the Bronx.

With that in mind, take a moment today to praise and give thanks for these brave souls who are the thin red line between us and any number of ways we could die without them. May 4th is International Firefighter Appreciation Day. You only have to read headlines from less prosperous countries, where  fires, floods, earthquakes, landslides and chemical spills kill many every day simply because their nation, city or town doesn’t have a rescue force.

With that in mind, here’s just an everyday glimpse of what firefighters face – events that don’t make into national newspapers and new shows, and often are just a slight brief in local papers.

Like this rescue:

As this newscaster put it last year after an incredible NYC rescue, “This is why we call them New York’s bravest.”

Here’s another firefighter’s eye view of what these brave men and women endure in a typical rescue you’ll never hear about again:

Think about it. A firefighter doesn’t have time to think or even fear what might be in a house or building on fire before they enter it. They are focused on one thing: saving lives. They also must deal with distraught family members, panicked parents, and frightened children. Just listen to this bystander narrating this rescue. And listen to the woman screaming in the background:

A hero has to filter all that out, focusing just on the mission:

And that’s what make them heroes.