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Brotherhood and Firefighter Chaplaincy

A while back I went to another funeral for a firefighter brother. I didn't know him personally, but that didn't really matter. I have found that this brotherhood (I use the term embracing both genders) extends beyond the bounds of actually meeting someone. I was there to honor my brother and to support those who have been left behind. While I have been to a number of funerals it always impressed me the depth of the brotherhood of the fire family. As I was researching this blog post I found a number of articles on the demise of the brotherhood of fire and it disturbed me. Are we really losing the brotherhood? Is the bond that is forged by this profession becoming weak with this new generation of firefighters? I would hope not. The brotherhood of the fire service spans geography, social, ethnic and religious bounds. It goes beyond pay or volunteer and luckily it goes beyond political ideology. This brotherhood is literally tested in fire. This video from the South Carolina State Firefighters Association tells story that the brotherhood spans even battle lines.

Even though we have differences, like those firefighters on different sides of the war, we are brothers and sisters. Our service is to our fellow citizen and to each other. It still means something when you see that Maltese cross in the back window of the car in front of you. You automatically know something special about that person. As fire chaplains, we are also a part of this deep tradition and brotherhood. In a lot of cases the chaplain doesn't carry the hoses or drive the apparatus. The chaplain isn't usually an EMT or a fire officer, though sometimes we are. No, a chaplain deals with the issues that injure the heart and soul of firefighters and the people of the community we serve. These are the wounds that usually take a long time to heal…if they heal at all. We are a reminder to all that God is here and that he cares.

So, here's to you my fellow chaplains. Thank you for keeping your firefighters in your prayers. Thank you for walking with them when they struggle and for celebrating the culture of the fire service. And thank you for being part of the brotherhood.

Chaplain Chris Wade

Vice President

South Carolina Public Safety Chaplains Association

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