As firefighters, we are trained to recognize the signs of an impending flashover. Rapidly increasing temperatures, a non-tenable environment, thick turbulent smoke and then it happens…
Consider the imagery. A firefighter under significant stress begins to rapidly change their behavior, they become difficult to be around or remove themselves from any form of camaraderie, and any attempt to go near them is met with turbulent angry behavior.
This is a warning. This individual is lashing out at you not because of something you did. It is a desperate cry for help and it is sent the only way we know how. We will literally watch our lives burn down around us before we call for help. Our pride can be our greatest demon. Are we going to wait until our fellow firefighters call out of desperation?
“Before they call, I will answer. While they are yet speaking, I will hear” Isaiah 65:24
As in a fire we must read the smoke, continually size-up our fellow firefighters, and watch for signs of impending problems. We pride ourselves in responding to others in need but often our greatest opportunity to make a save stands right next to us in our fire house.
Don’t miss the opportunity to save a life! We share this with you because we did. A close friend, who was always the happiest guy you had ever met, started to show signs of a problem. One day, we asked him how he was doing and he frowned and shook his head. Not a big deal for most individuals but for him it was completely out of character.
The look in his eyes when he spoke is an image that still lingers in our mind to this day. The following day, he committed suicide.
We share this story with you in hopes that each of us will look around the room and realize this: We are all that we have. We are a family and families take care of each other. Look after each other and take this calling seriously. We are our brother’s keeper.
The research paints a scary picture for the fire service if we fail to respond to this problem. We have all experienced and witnessed the pain. Firefighters are in desperate need of encouragement. This journey to bringing back brotherhood begins with us.
Will we be an agent of change?
Will we choose to encourage when no one else will?
Our prayer is that each of us will accept the call.