Tag Archives: firefighter

A Firefighter’s Guide to Fighting the Fire’s of Life

We all will face hard times in our lives. This is a quick format to follow the next time we come upon a difficult personal time. Let’s apply what we know as firefighters through a spiritual perspective:

Step 1) Size-Up:

At every incident we transmit a size-up to the responding companies. When we face down the difficulties of life let us do the same through Prayer:

Tell God what your facing and share it with someone you trust.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray continually,”

Step 2) Transfer Command to the Ultimate Fire ground Commander:

God has it under control so let us demonstrate our faith by trusting Him. At an incident we transfer command to a higher authority and trust that they are watching over us while we go to work on the problem.

Consider the battle is already won! We are fulfilling our part of God’s plan through our actions.

Romans 8:37 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Step 3) Follow His IAP: Incident Action Plan

Start mitigating the problem by following His plan by exemplifying our Faith in Action.

James 2:26 ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.’

In your heart, you will know what to do. By praying and seeking God’s counsel He will guide you.

So let’s get started. As stated above, God has the plan so let’s get to work and trust that He will be watching over us, guiding us, and teaching us along the way.

Step 4) Report to Rehab:

We will tire but we can rest in the confidence that help is on the way. He will provide the rest, renewal, and strength that we need to finish the race.

Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28

‘Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.’ Isaiah 65:24

 

Courage Redefined:

The courage to face adversity and opposition is one of the most difficult types of courage to cultivate. Why is this so? Because often it only grows through the challenge of adversity.

As firefighters we risk our lives daily in numerous ways yet when it comes to having the courage to speak up for our beliefs we shy away from the task.

To face the enemy known as fire we take a “calculated risk” based on our training, conditions, and resources available. Yet when we are faced with a moral dilemma we should remember to make our decision based on our faith, our core values, and the truth in God’s word. 

To have moral courage is to “stand firm in the faith”.  In order to develop this characteristic, one must sincerely believe. They stand firm, not because of their own strength, but because of their hope in Christ.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

The challenge lays before you and it is no easy task:

Let us be clear and speak the truth in love. When you are confronted, persecuted, or ridiculed because of your faith do not speak to them as they did to you.

Remember, Jesus is our example. When he was mocked, cursed, spit on, and persecuted He did not respond with anger but with love.

This is the mark of true courage: To respond to hate with love, to answer ridicule with wisdom, to turn the opposition into a conversation, and to lead a conversation into a relationship.

The world may hurt us, betray us, but we can have hope that Jesus didn’t let that stop Him from loving us. He loved through the hurt.

Pray that God will give us courage to love others even when they hurt us.

Prayer:
“May your words be on our lips and may your strength be in our spirit for we cannot stand on our own without you.”

We stand together in this fight with truth and suffer only because we trust in a God who has already won the victory for us.

So “as we are going” through our lives let us pray for the courage to stand firm in our faith, hold the line, and speak the truth in love. For it does us no good if sacrifice a relationship for the sake of winning an argument

What every firefighter needs to know

Firefighters function together despite differences, beliefs, or personal preferences. We are able to put aside our differences and function as one towards a common goal of serving our fellow man. Take a team of firefighters who have never met and place them on an apparatus and it is amazing how quickly they can come together as a team.

Yet, in the midst of personal conflict or troubles we seem ‘statistically’ incapable of helping ourselves. This is not to say that firefighters do not help each other. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Examples of brotherhood are found everywhere in this great profession. This article is written out of one individual’s passion to help stop a disturbing trend in the fire service.

We are brought together in ‘brotherhood’ to serve our fellow man but another unique element unites us all: Brokenness.

Firefighters have a servant heart and truly want to make a difference in the world. In this pursuit of service, we can become damaged by the painful moments that we face. One who comes too close to pain and tragedy on a regular basis rarely walks away without a wound to their soul.

We want to help yet we all need help sometimes. Our hardships and trials can produce undesirable effects in our lives, our families, and to our health.

What then can we do about this growing problem?

 Seek comfort by sharing you burdens:

 2Corinthians 1:3 What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.

 And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.

Every firefighter knows the burden of ‘that one call’ that is forever etched into their mind. Whether or not you believe in God, this article is to inform, inspire, and encourage others that there is hope. And unlike some motivational writings, the problem will not be simply defined but the reader will be given a few practical steps to help prevent the following statistics from increasing.

 

 The following statistics are consistent and well known:

 

Each year, around 100 firefighters die and around 50 percent of those deaths are cardiac related. Each year, 70-80,000 are injured.

 

The following statistics are not well known:

 

Each year firefighters are at a statistically higher risk of the following:

 

Suicide, PTSD, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, and divorce.

 

The fire service has been working diligently to save lives and improve firefighter safety.

 

Why is it that the behavioral health programs are not given the same priority as life safety?

 

The NFFF met ten years ago and developed 16 life safety initiatives to improve firefighter health as safety.

 

Life Safety Initiative 13 addresses Behavioral Health Management in a proactive manner. It addresses firefighter behavioral health from a comprehensive approach and not as a reaction to their behavior.

 

How many departments are currently addressing Firefighter Behavioral Health outside of the normal EAP and CISM programs?

 

How many are addressing the underlying issues that we all face?

 

“We are killing firefighters long before they ever get on a fire truck” Rick Lasky

 

This article is for all those who hurt, all of those who have had failed marriages, lost their jobs due to substance abuse or alcoholism, and for all those who suffer silently in the dark moments of their soul. And sadly, for those who have lost friends to suicide.

 

What can we do as “The Brotherhood” to take a proactive step towards preventing this trend from continuing? Here are four simple steps to helping combat the problem:

 

1)    Education:

Realize that the greatest opportunity to save someone’s life may be standing right next to you. Our problem is widespread and we need to be more educated about how to “rescue our own.”

 

These statistics paint a picture that should cause us all to wake up.

 

In a fire station of 10 people the likelihood of one member will:

 

Suffer a divorce (70%)

 

Suffering from PTSD: (16-24%)

 

Suffering from anxiety and or depression: (up to 55%)

 

Suffering from alcoholism (25%) or substance abuse:

 

What then can we do to combat this problem?

 

1) Learn the warning signs: Each member of the fire service should receive training on performing a firefighter size-up. As you have learned to continuously monitor conditions on the fire ground so you can apply the appropriate tactic so must you learn to watch over your brother or sister. Look for Physical, Emotional, Behavioral, and Job related changes.

 

2) Preventative Maintenance: in order to better serve on another it has been proven that we handle stress better if we have a support group. This can be a peer support group, life group, etc. but WE all need one. It is imperative to be surrounded by those who can provide comfort, counsel, and watch over each other throughout our careers.

 

3) Know your 911: As firefighters, we teach children fire safety, fire prevention, and to call 911 in case of emergency. But, if you were faced with a co-worker who was in a desperate situation that could compromise their life, health, family, and or job would you know who to call?

 

As well trained responders, it is interesting to note that we are more capable of helping our citizens than ourselves.

 

There are numerous resources, counseling services and services offered to first responders in need. The key is to helping someone is having this information readily available when you encounter a situation.

 

Each firefighter should know the resources that are available to them through their local department. If your department does not offer any resources please message the team and we will locate and put you in touch with resource in your area.

 

Don’t let your life or your brother’s burn down around you! Step up and be there for them. It will be hard, it will be painful, and it will require sacrifice but that’s what the calling of a firefighter is all about.

 

Additional Resources:

Examples of these services would be:

Alcohol & Drug Use: The FRAT program: http://www.livengrin.org/contact/

When those who help others need help:

http://1strespondertreatment.com/

 The First Responder Support Network:

http://www.drannbuscho.com/frsn.htm

Book: FDNY Crisis Counseling: Innovative Responses to 9/11 Firefighters, Families, and Communities

Further Information:

Recognizing and combating firefighter stress:

http://www.fireengineering.com/topics/device/mobile/t/68178810/recognizing-and-combating-firefighter-stress.htm?m_n=true

  Everyone Goes Home: Life Safety Initiatives from the NFFF:

 http://flsi13.everyonegoeshome.com/history.html

 

 

 

The Be-Attitudes of Brotherhood #2

The Be-attitudes of Brotherhood By Brother Stone

Be attitude #2

Be selfless-
This is probably the most important mark of true brother. It is the very essense of being a firefighter.

We willingly place ourselves in danger to help complete strangers. How much more should we do for those we live and work with?

Every great firefighter and leader lives by this trait. We should strive to suppress our own desires for self advancement and TRAIN ourselves to think of others FIRST.

Perhaps a quote from the best selling book in history can sum it up…

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” John 15:13.

If you apply this one Be-attitude great things are guaranteed for you and your career; but like anything of great value it is not easy.

Stay strong brothers and do the right thing, one day at a time!

Keep brotherhood alive through you!

The Be-Attitudes of Brotherhood #1

The “Be-attitudes” of #Brotherhood

By Brother Stone

The “be-attitudes” are a list of attitudes that define what brotherhood is all about. The be-attitudes are inspired by and loosely based on the biblical principles, along with a few other character traits that define the American Firefighter in the public eye.

  1. Be-attitude #1: Be honest.

‘And my honesty will testify for me in the future’ Genesis 30:33

“Honesty is the best policy” right? Yes indeed it is. When you are honest in your dealings your conscious remains clear. No need to “watch your back” or recall details of previous conversations.

Honesty is something that is not only expected from the public we serve but is a vital trait of a brother and a leader. If we strive to be honest in our dealings we will earn the confidence of our peers as well as our bosses. Honesty builds a reputation that is solid as a rock. People will always depend, go to , and confide in the one who remains faithful to the calling of honesty.

 

 

Firefighters-An Overseer, A Noble Task Often Neglected

Firefighters- You are an Overseer, A Noble Task often neglected:

“Early on he worked more than 64 hours a week arriving home between 8 and 10 pm each night. The cost of the lifestyle was his marriage. ‘All I worked for was wiped out with one phone call to the divorce lawyer.” An excerpt from Faith on the Fire Line by Fellowship of Christian Firefighters.

The Fire Service is a demanding profession. For those who are blessed to be a part of this noble calling can often fall victim into the trap of ambition. At first, our efforts seem noble; after all we are bettering ourselves to serve our community which also helps to insure our safety thereby showing the utmost regard for our loved ones at home, right?

It starts with a spark and we are the tinder. Before we know we are a roaring fire. We are consuming everything in our path that is fuel: textbooks, conferences, classes, on-line material, and on and on…

But then something happens, we look forward at all of our accolades, knowledge, and skills but there is an emptiness that is creeping into our heart.

What is this?

Why do we feel this way?

It is conviction. In the midst of our search for success and helping others we have forgotten about our first priority: Our family

Another class that we teach and we miss another ball game….

Another hour at the desk late at night and our spouse falls asleep in tears feeling more and more alone…

Another conference we attend away from family, and our children are growing up…

Another promotion we earn and responsibility we take on, while our role at home is diminishing and fading…

And then we hit rock bottom…

The pinnacle of success is not the pinnacle of significance. A thousand lives impacted and saved on the fire ground while we neglect our own family is the ultimate hypocrisy that many of us, including myself, have tried to justify as “part of the job.”

Neglecting our family is not part of the job! Our ever increasing divorce rates should not be part of the job. How are we to serve the public and set the example of integrity if we fail to serve our loved ones at home?
It has to be a balance. God designed work but he also designed rest.

Exodus 34:21
21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest ;(AU) even during the plowing season and harvest (AV) you must rest.”

How much do we rest? Do we rest with our families? Or do we seek rest in other places away from them?

His plan for our life is to have a relationship with Him through Jesus, model that relationship within our families (our first crew), and then model that relationship to others.

As firefighters, we are “overseers”, those called to watch over others. It is a great responsibility but yet there is one greater: Our role as leaders in our family. They are our first crew. They are our home church. They are directly under our care and supervision.

As a husband or a wife, you have been given a great blessing and a responsibility. It is to take care of those in your household and lead them in the “way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)

Consider this:

1 Timothy 3: 1-5

Here is a trustworthy saying : Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife,temperate,self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

In closing, prayerfully consider this application-Balancing our checkbook:

In our lives, we must be careful that as we serve others that we do not forget about our most noble calling which is to love, serve, and lead our families.

Let us all take a moment, and perform a spreadsheet of the commitments in our lives. Begin by adding the hours that we work (all of our jobs), the hours we sleep, the hours dedicated to other commitments (studies, writing, extracurricular activities, time away from home, etc.) and then perform this simple equation:

168 hours in a week –Work-sideline job- sleep-extra activities & commitments=time we have left over.

24 hours X 7 days: 168 hours

Average Firefighter work week: 56 hours

Sideline job: 30 hours a week

Average Firefighter sleep cycle: (4-6 hours a night) 48 hours a week (should be 56 hours a week to be healthy)

Extra Curricular Activities: Gym, writing, school: 10 hours a week

This leaves 24 hours a week for our families. Or to put it in terms that really hit home, 3.85 hours a day with our loved ones!

In our homes and in life this isn’t a guarantee that those 3.85 hours means that everyone will magically be there to spend time with us. What about their commitments? Your spouse’s job, your children’s school and activities. What about life?

Now how much time do we really have with our loved ones?
They say, if you want to know what is most important to you in life start by looking at your checkbook. Whatever receives the most of our financial capabilities is usually the most important. Let us, all look at our ‘checkbook’ of life and start managing our ‘life resources’ more in line with what is most important to us:

Our families.

Impending Flashover

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.

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Brotherhood-A Re-introduction:

A Re-Introduction:

Let us begin…

There once was a noble profession known as firefighting and then those who loved it most fought for it the least. Their once unstoppable passion for the calling was replaced with the search for fame, recognition, and authority. Division replaced unity, bitterness replaced brotherhood, the calling became a career, and firefighters became employees. All the while politics and policy makers saw this as an opportunity to continue to divide us.

For if we are divided searching for our own success, our focus is distracted, and our strength is diminished due to our loss of the greatest tradition in the fire service:
Brotherhood

This is not a fictional story. This is the slow erosion of our values and beliefs right in front of our very eyes. We choose to ignore it, and not believe that it is true but think for a moment about the following questions:

Are you tired of the negativity in the fire service?

Have you noticed the increasing trend of our brothers and sisters struggling?

Do you believe that we do a great job of helping others but fail at helping one another sometimes?

Have ever felt this way? Has your once passionate desire for the fire service been diminished by others? Do you feel abandoned?

“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion, I will bring you back” Isaiah 54:7

In 2012, God put a burden on a firefighter’s heart. The fire service had become a spiritual detriment but then God opened the eyes of that blind firefighter and showed him what it truly is:

A great spiritual opportunity to encourage one another!


With that in mind, God began the process. He wiped away the bitterness that had become part of the soul. He replaced it with compassion for those who had hurt, betrayed, and drained the soul of this lost firefighter. This Lost Firefighter has been found and has begun to see others as God sees them. Firefighters everywhere are hurting, they need encouragement, and the painful realization that occurred is that God had not failed them. It was the firefighter who had failed. He chose to let the world drain his passion. He allowed others to change his attitude. He drank the poison of bitterness and blamed the world.

Does this sound familiar to you? You are not alone…

This mission of Bringing Back Brotherhood is to encourage firefighters with the hope of Jesus Christ. This message will be shared through the vulnerable and often painful moments that we all face. The power of a testimony showing that you can endure, you can make a difference, and no matter the circumstances:

”Nothing is impossible with God.”


Through the power of sharing our lives and what God has done; therein lies the bridge to connect to our brothers & sisters who feel lost.

If you have felt the call, the inner desire to do something more, here is an offering. An offering of one firefighters desire to light a fire in others; the offering of a broken heart that has been healed through Jesus Christ.  An offering of pain, tears, and tribulation as an open book to you in the hopes that you will look to the one who will always provide.  The mission and prayerful hope is this:

If you have become lost that you will come home. Know that there is one who is searching for you and He wants you to come back home. The Ultimate Primary Search is being conducted for your heart and He will not stop until you are found. He offers you hope, comfort, and encouragement that the world can never take away. Begin your journey home today. Don’t let the world destroy our calling, let’s Bring Back Brotherhood one changed life at a time.