Anyone that has been in the fire service can attest to the power of the Fire House Kitchen table. Problems are solved, amazing stories are told (some true/some not), training is conducted, and bonds are forged that last a lifetime. It is truly an amazing place!
The Fire service is at a unique place in its history. We are able to discuss topics no matter our background or expertise with anyone from around the world. We are instantly connected via social media to one another in a way like never before. We can help one another in profound ways and we can harm one another in ways like never before.
Perhaps, as you read this you may find yourself ‘alone’ in your fire service journey. You may have begun to feel that your efforts are not valued or appreciated. Perhaps your department has suffered from the recession and lost valuable resources: staffing and equipment. Maybe you are in a fire house that is complacent and doesn’t appreciate your passionate spirit for training and education. And perhaps you have come to a place where your energy is beginning to fade.
Where does one go from here?
Let me introduce you to a ‘new’ fire house kitchen table. One that appreciates, encourages, and offers support to people like ourselves. A place where we can ‘air’ our opinions without fear of reprisal. A place of fellowship where individuals like us can be open and receive wisdom from those who have been through the ‘fires’ of experience.
This place is a virtual Fire House Kitchen table. This is when the power of social media can be used in a profoundly impactful way. Have you met fire service leaders online who are actively working to make a difference in our world? Have you taken notice to the number of firefighters who are encouraging others online through training, advice, google hangouts, and more? Have you noticed that there are many firefighters looking for encouragement as well?
If you have noticed all of this, congratulations you have begun to build your own Fire House Kitchen table. There are many ways that you can establish this group. For example, I belong to a group that is a group text message thread that we update daily. We bring our issues, our encouragement, our experiences, and our struggles to the table. This group is a tremendous blessing to me and I highly recommend anyone who is in the fire service to surround themselves with passionate, encouraging, and wise fire service leaders who can help them along the way.
The value of peer support has been documented, researched, and is used in CISM, Psychological First Aid, and in many other settings. In the fire service, we are in this journey together and we do nothing alone. Let us remember this principle as we face struggles, need support, and are looking for guidance. Let us remember to continually seek improvement, collectively share our experiences, and to build up one another.
“Encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries