Tag Archives: firefighting

The Forgotten Ones

It is a commonly known fact that those that care for others the most often receive the least care or concern in return…
 
It is commonly known that those who give the most of themselves, who bear their souls, and lift up others in prayer often suffer in silence with their own struggles of sin and pain…
 
To those who call out from the depths of despair…
When you have walked through the darkness of your circumstance…
Take a moment and remember thankfully those who were there…
 
For many laborers make light work of one’s burdens…
Yet too often, when the burden is lifted…
The hurting hearts are healed and the helper is left hurting…
 
When your pain blinds our perspective where you feel that no one cares…
Stand up, open up our eyes, and see the multitude…
Who have been long standing there…
 
Standing alongside with those who have felt abandoned…
Shedding tears with the broken and the forgotten…
Praying for those who aren’t aware…
That many are lifting them up in fervent, passionate, and heartfelt prayer…
 
There are those who hold another’s pain only for a brief moment…
There are those who listen with compassion, intently focused, on the hearts that are broken…
There are those who keep your confidence of your darkest & innermost pain…
There are those who do this, daily, again, and again…
 
They take that phone call at the worst possible time…
They show up when all hope is lost and everyone has gone…
They hold your hand, hold your heart, and never let go of the line…
 
They have sacrificed, lost, and often fall ill…
They have done all of this not for fame or fortune…
They have cared deeply because of the love of the One…
The One who gave it all in spite of our sin…
The One who lived, loved, and died, and rose again…
 
He is the reason that there are those who care so much…
He has changed their heart, enlarged it, and filled it with His love…
They do all these things and more in the name of God’s Son…
They do all of this even though that they are often forsaken, persecuted…
And even though they help those who are lost, they are often the forgotten ones…
 
We say we “Never Forget”, I challenge you today to Never Forget those who have lifted you up, cared when no one else did, and listened when all others walked away…
 
Let us not forget those who care enough to “bear one another’s burdens” for they often are bearing great burdens of their own.
 
God Bless,
Andy Starnes

In One Moment

Many of us complain through our joys rather than celebrate them…

We fail to realize that our lives are but mere moments…

And it’s up to us to either live with remorse or cherish them…

In one moment, we stand before God at an altar…

In one moment, we cannot believe that our marriage has faltered…

In one moment, we hold a precious new born child…

In one moment, we are signing papers over differences that can’t be reconciled…

In one moment, we are pious and preaching at others…

In one moment, we are found guilty of the same sin we condemned our fellow brothers…

In one moment, we are living a dream, perfect and serene…

In one moment, we are found wanting, our nightmare has erased our dream…

In one moment, we have a family, a job, and all that we could ask for…

In one moment, we are hiding in an alley, shivering in the cold suffering from our own personal disaster…

In one moment, we are saving others, making a difference every day…

In one moment, we are staring down the barrel of a gun wondering if there is another way…

In one moment, we are comforting others with counsel and guidance…

In one moment, we are refusing our own advice lost in our own personal bias…

In one moment, we are healthy and we take it for granted…

In one moment, we are disease stricken, hopeless, and abandoned….

In one moment, our lives can suddenly change…

Yet we often take these moments for granted, failing to realize they will never be had again…

This all comes back to a garden where we lived in perfect fellowship…

We had it all, yet we longed for more even though there was only one prohibition…

Rather than focus on what we have, we pondered that one refusal…

The decision to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…

From this day on we have been spiraling downward, hell bent on having it our way…

Yet what we failed to realize is that God warned us yet we did it anyway…

We chose to decide what is good and what is evil based on our own decisions…

We chose to invalidate morality, condemn accountability, and justify our own sins…

The collateral damage since that day is plain for every eye to see…

Failed marriages, rampant violence, and even the killing of our own unborn children…

All neatly justified, elaborately explained, by society’s freedom from religion…

We rip God from the very pages of our history as to say to Him, You are not welcome here…

Yet we welcome and encourage His word to the incarcerated as it calms the violence and fear…

We scream at those who follow Christ, you are hateful and intolerant of our views…

While they serve the least, feed the hungry, and struggle with their own demons in their pews…

We lash out at those who say there is only one way to God through Christ….

While in reality, our doctrine loses its explanatory power at the end of our lives…

For only then as the thief on the cross realized at the last moment…

Only Jesus Christ can save us from our sins and his precious blood made for our atonement…

Sadly, many of us realize this one moment too late…

Our death bed conversion never occurs as we enter the brimstone lake…

We weep and we gnash our teeth in the darkness but our cries are not heard…

For in our one moment, we chose to ignore the voice of our Savior and Lord…

We chose our moments to be defined by our own righteousness that fell far too short…

We chose to justify our sinful lifestyles only to be found guilty in the highest of courts…

We thought we would stand and give God our explanation…

Yet we fell silent, on our knees, and confessed our lack of His salvation…

But this story doesn’t have to end this way for all of humanity…

For God sent His Son to save the world from this terrible calamity…

If we would but accept His gift and confess our sinful heart…
He will give us a new heart, a new mind, and a brand new start…

This is the promise from God that cannot be broken…

His word will not return void and we are free to be one of His chosen…

Will we accept this freedom in Christ this treasured gift that He gave?

His blood, His sacrifice, was given so all may be saved?

It is a gift that must be received for our relationship to be restored…

It costs us nothing but our submission to the One Jesus Christ Our Lord…

He gave it all so that we may live…

In our one moment, what will we choose to give?

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

 

 

 

In a Battle? Time to Get to Higher Ground!

In the midst of the storms of this life, have we considered how well we are communicating with the One who controls the winds and the waves? In the middle of the firefight when the flames are raging, how well are we communicating with the Ultimate Incident Commander?
“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me for in you my soul takes refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purposes for me” (Psalm 57:1-2)
 
There is a battle raging right before our very eyes. Police are being targeted and killed, religious freedoms are being removed, innocent unborn children are being murdered, terrorism is on the rise, and the importance of morals & values are being diminished by many leaders in society. Yet there is an even greater war going on….
 
“For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12).
 
The Bible clearly tells us that there IS spiritual warfare going on all around us. For those who believe, we see its effects clearly around us. Yet we also fight a battle within ourselves against our sinful nature. We fight against our own lust, lies, anger, hypocrisy, idolatry, greed, and so on.
 
“For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Holy Spirit, you are not under the Law” (Galatians 5:17-18).
 
So how do we fight against this invisible foe along with our sinful nature? Paul reminds us in Ephesians that we should “put on the full armor of God, so that you can be ready to take you stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). However, are we truly ready for battle? The issue isn’t the armor of God in many cases; but whether or not we are communicating and in relationship with the One who is leading the battle.
 
We must boldly then pray “For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:18) and know that “In Him through faith we approach God” (Ephesians 3:12). This can be hard for many of us. For myself, I feel that my prayers are often hindered not because of God but because of me. I feel unworthy to approach him because of my sins. I forget the great price that was paid for my own sins by Jesus Christ. I have to come once again, boldly yet broken to the foot of the cross and cry out to My Lord having the full confidence that He will hear me not because of what I have done but because of what Jesus Christ has done for all of us.
 
We can then pray as Paul did that God would “strengthen you with the power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted, and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s Holy people to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-20).
 
So are ready for battle? Are we willing to put the time in as a good soldier of Jesus Christ? Time in prayer, Time in studying His word, and Time in showing God’s love to a hurting and lost world even if it costs us?
Remember, a solider expects to be attacked, they expect their enemy will come at them. Let us then boldly pray and pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus knowing that He will fight our battles if we will remain in Him.
 
God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes

The Shareholders Meeting

The Shareholders Meeting:

In a dimly lit room holding about thirty individuals from various countries, backgrounds, and experience levels all sat conversing their vested interest in a precious commodity. There were questions posed from those transitioning from one point of leadership to another. There were questions asked from those just beginning their journey in investing in this commodity. Thoughts were provoked, hearts were stirred, and the young and the elder sat at the same table without rank or recognition all for the same reason:

“The Fire Service”

Men and women sacrifice their time, their monies, their health, and yes even their lives for this investment. It is not bought nor sold yet it has a market all to itself. It requires more than a millionaire can offer yet only those with hearts dedicated enough to serve stay vested long enough for their service to pay the true dividends that it offers.

These shareholders are like none other. They take ownership in not some mere piece of paper whose value changes with the wind. They take ownership in a calling unlike any other that says we care, we will be there, and we will answer when no one else will. They show up whether paid or volunteer. They refuse to accept the diminishing minimum standards that are set by those who are blind to the maximum requirements of this position. These shareholders cannot be bought nor sold. Their integrity is like precious metals that are forged in the furnace of adversity. Their drive is unshakable even when all has been taken from them they continue to give.

These men and women do not ask for reward nor recognition. They do not care for words of praise. What they desire is something seldom offered to them. They long for the chance to serve and the means to do so. Yet in the face of a world that continues to lay-off firefighters, close fire stations, and reduce our capabilities to serve we the fire service continue to serve even when the world tries to tie our hands.

In departments where there is no “2 out” because the powers that be said they weren’t needed; rest assured there will be “2 in.” What the taxpayer and the average citizen may not know, is these shareholders look upon their citizens lives, their families lives, and the chance to make a difference as their most important investment. These shareholders won’t be bound nor limited by policy but by principles and by passion. They refuse to be patronized by politicians who only want their votes yet pull the plug on their brothers and sisters benefits. They will not speak words of slander nor defame anyone’s character yet they will answer the call of the poor, that same politician, the elderly, and all who are in need.

This is what these shareholders desire from us all. For us to remember, that no matter the political climate they will continue to invest. No matter the shackles placed upon them by reduced manpower they will continue to answer. The Shareholders of this precious commodity known as the Fire Service ask one thing:

Remember Them!

For they have not forgotten you….

Signed, a fellow shareholder…

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

The Shortest & Most Powerful Verse

The Shortest & Most Powerful Verse:

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35)

As firefighters, we don’t like to admit that we often hurt. Not just a physical pain from our work but an inner torment. We often push down the emotions from the things we see, the struggles in our own lives, and the stress we experience. Then in one moment, we erupt as if our emotional pressure relief valve gives up. The tears come and they fall like rain. Perhaps, in this moment we could take the time to remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ also shed tears.

Jesus experienced the same emotions that you and I feel. Every one of us has shed tears, tears of joy, and tears of sadness.  We will face trying times and some of these moments will seem impossible for us to deal with.  And as a follower of Christ, the more that we work for Him, the higher position we rise to, the greater the opposition we will face. It is a certainty that has been foretold by Jesus and lived out by Him and all of those who have followed Him.

“If you want to be my follower you must love Me more than your own father & mother, wife, and children, brothers, sisters-yes more than your own life.” (Luke 14:26)

In John 15:18-25 Jesus predicts our coming persecutions:

18 “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master. ’If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin.  Now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 The one who hates Me also hates My Father. 24 If I had not done the works among them that no one else has done, they would not have sin. Now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened so that the statement written in their scripture might be fulfilled: They hated Me for no reason.

Many of us have fallen away when we have suffered for the sake of Christ but we must remember the words in 1 Peter 4:12-19.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?

 

And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty,

What will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.”

Every person that we can read about in the Bible struggled, suffered, and wept. Yet, do we realize there is such a thing as tears of joy. The actual chemical composition of tears of sadness and tears of joy are actually different. So when we feel the emotions flood our hearts let us not suppress them let us embrace them and remember:

God counts every one of our tears:

“Thou numberest my wanderings: Put thou my tears into thy bottle; Are they not in thy book?” Psalm 56:8

God Himself has shed tears:

“Jesus wept” John 11:35

God will wipe away our tears:

“4 and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away. “(Revelation 21:4)

The tears of joy and sadness in life will come but let them fall knowing that God the Father counts every one, God the Son has shed tears, and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes one day. We can take comfort Jesus was “made in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since He himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.” (Hebrews 2:17-18)

We are to remember that this world is the training grounds for heaven. We are made for a higher purpose, predestined for good works, and He will use all things to work together for our good and His glory if we will yet trust in Him. Hold the line, don’t let stop fighting the fires of your life, and remember He is with us though it all.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

 

 

Out of the Flames-Jarret Keith Testimonial

We thank our brother Jarret Keith for courageously sharing his testimony with all of us. Read on for encouragement:

There have been some recent occurrences that have changed my life and I feel the need to share it with all of you. I have recently decided to accept Jesus into my heart again. I accepted him into my heart before and strayed away from the word of God. But this past Friday I was at work at the Fire Dept. Several things occurred that day that really made me mad, upset me, and disgusted me.

That night A broadcast network called CBN happened to be on, so I watched. During the show they talked about several different things, those things they talked about just happened to be everything that happened that day….that’s not coincidence! The Lord reached out grabbed me and shook me through that show.

At the end of the show, the host made this comment, “If there is anyone that doesn’t know Jesus or knows him but needs to let him back into their hearts, please pray with me now and repeat after me.” I did, and it felt like the whole world lifted off my shoulders! I let him back in! (This is the part that gets interesting.) As I said earlier I have asked him to come into my heart before, done right for a little while, then I would get back on the same path I’d been on. (And no not drugs, just attitude, temper, my mouth and not following God and doing what he expects of me.)

This past Monday, I was on shift at the Fire Dept around 1:10 in the afternoon on Monday we were toned out to a structure fire. We arrived on scene and from the outside looked like we could go inside, make a good interior attack and knock it down. Myself and my Lt. put our air packs on and stretched a line to the door and popped the door open. As the door swung open black smoke that banked all the way to the floor started flowing out. As I made entry into the house on the nozzle, I got about half way across the living room and something wasn’t right, it was just too hot, my instincts were telling me to get out (or was it my instincts? Could it have been something or someone else.) I told my Lt. to back out, something wasn’t right and it was too hot. As I came out of the door we sat and watched the smoke for a few seconds to come up with a new game plan.

All of a sudden, about 20 seconds after we backed out a flash-over occurred. the Fire came towards the door and rolled right over the top of mine and my Lt’s head. Jesus had surrounded us with his loving arms and shielded us from that flash-over. Also where the fire was at in that house would have taken us about that long if not a little longer to get to it. If we had kept going and not backed out I would probably not be writing this post right now. We would have been caught right in the middle of the flash-over. Myself and my Lt. are blessed we did not keep going. I firmly believe that what happened Monday was the Lord giving me an example. I feel with all my heart that when that happened he was telling me, “This is why you need me, this is what I can do for you, this is how I can protect you, this is why you do not need to stray away from me again.” I firmly believe he reached out to me on that Friday through the host of a Christian network and then Monday showed me why I need him in my life and my heart through that fire when the flash-over occurred. God gave me another chance and this is where my new life begins!

If this story has inspired you and you would like to know more about how to receive Christ as your savior email us at bringingbackbrotherhood@gmail.com

God Bless,

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

Fighting Against Our Purpose

In the world today, many have struggled to make ends meet. Many have struggled with the loss of their jobs, their homes, and their finances. In the midst of the world of financial insecurity, have we not seen the danger of placing our hope and trust in money?

In a blink of an eye, a lifetime of work and savings can be erased…

In a bad day at the stock market, retirement dreams can be wiped out…

In an unexpected letter from a spouse, we can become alone and financially destitute…

In a moment, all that we thought was valuable can be erased…
The questions we must ask ourselves are:

What is truly valuable?
What truly is meaningful to us?
Where is our heart?

We live in the richest country in the world. Yet we are statistically suffering from higher rates of depression, suicide, and other behavioral health issues than anyone else.

What can we learn from our continuous pursuit of financial security?

Finances do not equate Fulfillment.
Deep pockets do not always equate to Deep Principles.
Larger Salaries can leave us lacking meaning.

God instills passion in our hearts that ultimately lead us toward our purpose. He has uniquely designed us for a specific purpose that no one can fill.

In our lives, we can often find ourselves struggling because we have fought against that purpose. We have been led astray by the desires of this world. We have chased the dollar, wanted recognition, sought power over our purpose.

Then we come to that moment, when our hearts are full and our bank accounts are small. We begin to give back as we have found that “a generous man shall prosper, and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” (Proverbs) We embrace our inner calling that we have fought against for so long. We begin to experience peace in our lives. We have come to the place where we are fulfilled not by our paycheck, our title, or our authority but because of Christ.

My friends, in a moment our lives can be changed. The world can take away all the things that it deems valuable to us. But it cannot take away our love for God, our love for family, and our love for what God has called us to do. The greatest paycheck we can receive is the peace in our hearts when we realize that we are making a difference, we are a part of God’s plan, and we are following it rather than fighting it.

A simple three question guide we can all follow when making decisions about our purpose is this:

Is what we are about to do going to help us grow in our faith with Jesus?

Is what we are about to do going to improve upon our marriage?

Is what we are about to do going to enrich our lives with our children?

If the answer is no, then our answer should be no. For when we walk away from God, our marriage, and our children even in the smallest deviation we have failed. We have walked away from our purpose. “Anything that diminishes or distracts from our original purpose, no matter how good it may seem is sin to us.” Ravi Zachariahs

Stay focused and continually watch out for anything that may be pulling us away from our true purpose. We can only do this by staying connected to God and fellow believers who hold us accountable.

May God Bless you all,
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood MInistries

The Haz-Mat Rule of Relationships:

In the fire service, we are taught when dealing with hazardous materials incidents that we are to:

Recognize, Notify, Identify, & Protect:

In our personal lives, we will ultimately find that our environments are often hazardous to our health. We may be in the most vibrant, passionate, and fired up stage of our lives and yet be in an environment that does everything to poison, condemn, and cause us to doubt. We often forget, that we were made for a purpose and that God has equipped us to deal with these hazardous situations.

How is this so?

Consider our response to a Hazardous Material Incident:

When dealing with hazardous material incidents we consult the Field Guide; thus when dealing with toxic individuals we should consult the ultimate field guide:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

We have recognized the fact that we are in world of hurting individuals. We have consulted God’s word for resources and we pray (notify) to be equipped for every good work.

Yet, we need to change our perspective on those we view as hazardous materials. They may be toxic to others but how did they become so harsh? Do we realize that God loves them just as much as He loves us? Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 9: 36-38:

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

We have identified those that are in need and we must have a new found compassion for them. Our challenge that lies before us is to begin the hard work of protecting them by offering the saving grace of Jesus Christ. As a Haz-Mat technician approaches a scene they are properly dressed and prepared for their challenge. As a worker entering the harvest field, we must be sure to put on the armor of God and prepare our hearts for those we are about to minister to. We must “Always be prepared to give an answer (an apologetic) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15)

For “apologetic’s, if not under-girded by love is really nothing more than a sword intended to decapitate the person in front.” (Ravi Zacharias) Therefore as we approach our hurting world, let us not forget to approach them with the love of Jesus Christ. For if we do, the doors God may open will amaze us and change our hearts in the process. “For the Son of man entered the world to seek and save which was lost.” (Matthew 18:11)

Let us seek to save the lost in a hurting world around us,

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

Organizational Processes & Firefighter Ethical Performance

Do Organizational Processes Affect Individual Firefighter Ethical Performance?

Clearly, public service ethics has become a very broad and often ambiguous category that sometimes generates controversy as to what constitutes the term” (Zamor, p.1). Yet in the realm of public service, it continues to demand individuals of higher moral character and behavior while failing to produce a consistent example or mechanism of enforcement. Why is this so? One begins to wonder, with all of the emphasis on the individual how much of their ethical performance is determined by the organizational processes or culture?
Let us consider these questions:

• Will the members of higher moral character tire of doing the right thing because the organizational climate is ethically absent? Or ‘if the opportunity presents itself, and the risk of getting caught is low, and if the organization does not foster an ethical climate, then chances are fairly good that corruption will take place” (Zamor, p.6).

• Will a devout religious individual fail ethically if forced to choose between their principles and their paycheck? If socioeconomic pressures continue to remove an individual’s ability to freely communicate their personal beliefs will we see a decline in the profession or in the pulpit?

• Will a compliance based ethical employee fail the organization if not given proper boundaries such as codes of ethics and organizational controls? What if the ethical fence has been well defined but is continually moved for certain individuals in the event of ethical disasters?

Why are ethics important to the fire service?

It has been said that ethics are “the process by which we clarify right from wrong and act on what we take to be right’ (Zamor, p.1). The phrase that grabs our attention is deemed ‘bureaucratic discretion’; wherein the public servant exercises his or her ability to make the proper decisions within the framework of organizational controls and codes of ethics. In firefighter terms, this is when an individual faces down an incident and has to make a decision.

As a firefighter we have our framework, the incident command system, and we understand our response protocols thus knowing our resource capabilities. We size up the problem, formulate the incident action plan, and move into action. On the average, firefighters are statistically consistent in these areas because of the constant training, accountability measures, and the constant practice of these skills.

Yet in the realm of ethical decision making we seem hesitant and treat the decision as if it were a hazardous materials incident. We recognize, notify, identify/isolate, and protect if necessary because we know what we are dealing with may have consequences that outlive us. We sometimes put off making the decision or avoid it altogether which goes against the very nature of firefighters. Thus we return to the title and question of this article: Do organizational processes affect a firefighter’s individual ethical performance? I believe that the individual’s ethical performance is impaired or affected by the organizational processes for three main reasons:

• Claim without consistent conduct.
• Fears of financial loss.
• A lack of organizational controls and codes of conduct.

First, any individual who is employed in an organization that supports ethical behavior in policy but their organization fails to truly exemplify it in its daily actions will be setting the stage for ethical dilemmas. Policies without practice are mere words without meaning. Many organizations fail to recognize the critical nature of an individual’s spiritual beliefs, their impact on their behaviors, and their daily decisions. “An individual’s spirituality is critical to his/her comprehension and perception of ethical behavior” (Zamor, p.6). The prophet Isaiah sums it up well: “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught” (Isaiah 29:13).

And the inherent nature of an individual to ignore the code of conduct is explained well here:
‘Operational enforcement structures and procedures’ hence end up taking ‘the form of elegant plaques that are hung on the office walls and thereafter ignored. They may be quoted on ceremonial occasions, but never taken seriously enough to use in assessing the conduct of individual members” (Zamor, p4).

In firefighter terms, the organization’s member’s talk must match its talk. In all of the research it comes back to integrity. “It is the public servant’s internal moral character and individual conscience that is critical in ensuring that actions are ethical and are in line with the ethics codes, and that they are carried out with integrity and morality. Carl Friedrich (1935) stated that internal control and individual conscience are the core of ethical behavior and standards in the public service.” (Zamor, p.4). In short, if those who create the policies fail to follow the policies it breeds apathy and anarchy. Its members will stop believing in them and they will have lost all credibility.

Secondly, individual ethical performance is often compromised for financial reasons. Many employees have failed to speak up on matters of principle, unfair treatment, or other issues for fear of losing their job. An organization that persecutes those who stand up for their beliefs has gained compliance through fear and intimidation.

Lastly, we come to the compliance based ethical individual. The policies, procedures, and general statutes are specifically for these individuals and without them they would wander off. “Left to their own, some public servants may engage in selfish behavior. This is where external controls like rules and regulations, penalties and punishments that impose constraints on the conduct of public servants find usefulness” (Zamor, p.6).

Many departments fail to publish their code of ethics and S.O.G’s believing that they are common sense. These departments fail to be proactive and often react by writing a policy based upon an ethical breech. Thus the “Your name here-S.O.G.” is born. Each time an ethical dilemma is faced a new policy is written and each year the policy book grows thicker and the offenses continue. An organization must endorse, train, and educate its employees on its policies and processes. ‘When ethics training is successful, employees become aware of ethical choices and have the knowledge and resources to choose and carry out the right choices’ (Zamor, p.8).

Despite the organizational processes that may impact individual ethical performance “ultimately, public service ethics depend on the individual conscience of the public servants and the organizational constraints that may take the form of rules and regulations, codes of conduct, organizational process, structures, and culture” (Zamor, p.8). The ethical performance of the individual resides with the individual but the organizational processes can be a test of one’s moral character. The power of petition is based upon the depth of the relationship thus the ethical performance of an employee is based upon the depth of their conscience and beliefs. An individual will do the ‘right thing’ in the difficult moments if their values are deeply rooted. Such “values are formed long before people enter public service” (Zamor p.8).

Another process that is critical to individual ethical performance that is often overlooked is the hiring process. Each organization would do well to conduct more research to discover if the person’s ethics they are about to hire truly align with the values of the department. Some employers are already using Emotional Quotient Testing in their hiring processes. Certain departments are using these processes with great results. One department that was interviewed currently use a service called Zero Risk HR for Emotional Intelligence Pre-employment Assessment (http://www.zeroriskhr.com/). This is another type of organization control to insure the department is hiring those who value align with the organization. Chief Dennis Rubin, states it well in his class “How not to hire idiots, thugs, and misfits.”

“It would be interesting to “dollarize” all of the costs associated with the discipline process that a department spends during a single year. Some examples are the personnel needed to investigate bad behaviors; the time and effort to document same; the cost to consult with outside agencies such as police or attorneys; if a member is suspended or terminated, calculate the replacement overtime costs; the aspect of spending time with the media explaining the situation and so on.” (Dennis Rubin)

In conclusion, the ethical performance of an individual can be affected by organizational processes but it is ultimately up to the individual’s values. These processes are in the news daily such as ‘Firefighters vote no confidence in Fire Chief’, “Former employee alleges firing was based on her whistle blowing efforts”, and “Firefighter fired for social media post.” The examples given in this article show how the informal cultural processes of an organization can affect an individual’s ethical performance. The fire service would be wise to begin to evaluate the organizations ethical performance regularly, train employees on proper ethical behaviors, and continually monitor the health of the organization by the ethical behaviors of its members.

Works Cited:

Casey, Michael P. (2007) Emotional Intelligence for Emergency Service Leaders.
Retrieved from: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo40416.pdf

Genevieve Enid Kyarimpa & Jean-Claude Garcia-Zamor (2006): The Quest for Public Service Ethics: Individual Conscience and Organizational Constraints, Public Money & Management, 26:1, 31-38
Rubin, Dennis. (2012). How not to hire idiots, thugs, and misfits. Fire Rescue1 magazine. Retrieved from: http://www.firerescue1.com/fire-department-management/articles/1377396-Hiring-plan-How-not-to-hire-idiots-thugs-and-misfits/

Chain of Command-Going Straight to the Chief

In the fire service, we follow the ‘chain of command’ in which we communicate to our immediate supervisor. We follow this out of respect and out of the knowledge we are not allowed to go directly to the Chief without representation. In our lives, we sometimes feel we cannot go to God with our troubles. We feel unworthy and that the distance between our hearts and God is too far.

Let us consider for a moment what Jesus did for us:

In the Old Testament, the Israelite’s were not permitted to approach ‘The Most Holy Place’ which is where God would meet with the High Priest. Only the High Priest could do so once a year on the day of the atonement to make sacrifice for the sins of the nation. This Most Holy Place was between two Cherubim over the atonement cover on the Ark of the Covenant. (See Exodus 25:22). This place was within the tabernacle and was separated by a veil.

In Matthew 27: 50-51, Through Jesus’ death we see how He made a way for us to go directly in the presence of God. The veil that separated us from the Most Holy Place was torn.

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

As believers in Jesus, we no longer need to wait on someone to represent us. Jesus has done so on our behalf. The veil was torn, removing the barrier between us and God, so we may approach God with confidence.

In firefighter terms, we can walk right in to the Chief of the department’s office and talk to him face to face. We don’t have to call anyone else or ask permission. Through Jesus Christ we “may approach with confidence” and talk with God.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter ‘The Most Holy Place’ by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, opened up for us through the curtain, that is His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God let us draw near to God with a sincere heart.” Hebrews 10:19-20

Take a moment and remember what God has done for all of us. He has removed all the barriers and made a way for us to freely approach Him because of the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. We can freely approach Him and we do so with a grateful heart.

Our gratitude is expressed in the knowledge that we could have never crossed this veil without Christ.

Let us give thanks today and lift up our voice to God! He will hear our cries because Christ has made it possible for all those who believe. He has broken down all the barriers and nothing stands in our way of communicating the deepest desires of our heart.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries