July 24 was a very scary day for many in Salt Lake City as flames, smoke and drifting ash erupted from the hillside above the state Capitol, climbing rapidly in wind-fanned fury.

My wife described her fear watching flames shoot higher and higher, racing toward the many homes spread around the conflagration. She feared the first firefighters on the scene would be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the blaze, but hopeful as she watched them take up positions, get their equipment deployed and begin to bring the worst of the situation under control. From her vantage point she said it was clear the firefighters knew exactly what to do and how to do it. It is to their credit that the potential disaster was kept to little more than an exciting fright.

We are really fortunate to have such exceptional professionals, and the results of Tuesday's scare are a credit to their years of training, experience and stamina under conditions of exceptional physical stress. All Salt Lakers should join me in expressing our gratitude to them. The same goes to all the men and women who serve the public good, day and night, most under conditions not as dramatic as Tuesday's fire, but all essential to our exceptional community.

Kudos to all.

Richard H. Schmidt, Salt Lake City