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Ministering to a Fire Department

How comfort and affirmation is provided to those in a line of noble work.

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's helmet when he was a fire department chaplain

Just shy of 10 years ago, my husband joined our local fire department as a volunteer firefighter, beginning a career as a first responder. He is committed to this role in impressive ways, just like the rest of his squad.

The fire department has meetings and drills every week, plus there are required courses, visits with schoolchildren to teach them fire safety, and of course, calls to the scenes of emergencies–fires, downed wires, motor vehicle accidents. 

These are all reminders to me and to our children of the commitment of time, training and dedication of a first responder.

I’ll be honest, though: There are times when I wish this element of our lives was not in play, especially when my husband needs to leave family time in the evenings or on the weekends to respond to a call. Slowly I have learned to reframe my thinking. At that call–that’s where he needs to be.

He is qualified, committed and could potentially save lives. Surely we can share him for such a critical purpose. His role as a volunteer first responder allows our children to see service to our community as an opportunity, with the hope that they will serve their communities in their own ways as adults.

Just as in the military, fire departments have chaplains. The mere fact that the role of a chaplain exists comforts me and I hope those whom the chaplains serve.

My Grandfather Peale was the chaplain of the same fire department my husband belongs to. (His helmet is pictured here.)

I know Grandpa cherished this role and deeply valued the volunteer firefighters and the risks they took to save lives and help those in need.

The minister of our church is now the department’s chaplain. I have watched how he provides volunteers, through his words and his presence, a sense of comfort, of calm, of God’s presence.

The terribly difficult, painful and graphic things these volunteers witness can leave traumatic imprints in minds and memories. The firefighters have each other, their empathy, coping mechanisms and comradery, all of which are nurturing and helpful.

But I wholeheartedly believe that hearing and reading words of God’s support and love for each of them can also be a great help in recovering from such painful and powerful experiences.

My husband and I spoke last evening of gathering Guideposts booklets for the fire department chaplain to share with firefighters. Having them available to these volunteers, who put themselves in dangerous situations to protect and save others, would provide them comfort and affirmation as they continue to do their noble work.

Guideposts Outreach distributes these booklets free of charge, and that is only possible through the generous support of people like you. So I want to say thank you. It is with deep gratitude that I will share these spirit-lifting resources with our local fire department’s chaplain.

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