Many great firefighters are non-believers and it’s neither this article’s intention nor the author’s to state that a non-believer cannot be a great firefighter. It is my belief that faith is a key asset to the fire service and to our firefighters. Consider the acts of service that each firefighter provides daily and the great risks that are taken on another’s behalf.
Many firefighters believe that the fire service is a calling and are gifted in their service. The problem lies in that as we serve “we become enamored by our gift and forget about our calling” (Ravi Zacharias). We begin to believe that we are invincible and that our skills are what makes us great. Perhaps, we may have forgotten what drove us to become the best that we can be.
To further explain the value of faith, let us consider the following questions:
- What would the fire service be without belief?
- Does it matter that a firefighter doesn’t place the same value in the service that we provide to our fellow man?
- Do we believe that a skilled employee will ever outperform a passionate, skilled, and caring firefighter?
- Can we as firefighters look one another in the eye and truly say, “I trust you and I would lay down my life for you”?
- Does one embrace such a commitment without belief?
- Does one commit to such a daunting task without trust?
Without faith, the noble calling known as firefighting would be reduced to an occupation. The fire service stands upon a foundation of these principles that is laid upon the bedrock of faith. Would any firefighter feel comfortable knowing that the person next to them in an IDLH environment has neither trust nor belief in the fire service?
Many examples of fire house life should cause us all to stop and reflect if we truly do believe in what we are doing. Our examples, or lack thereof, can cause others to lose hope in the very calling that we value. Faith can be further emphasized by a reminder of what we each swore to do. We took an oath as firefighters, an oath as a sign of commitment before others that our belief is strong.
An example of such an oath is The Firefighter’s Pledge:
The Firefighter’s Pledge
I promise a concern for others,
A willingness to help all those in need.
I promise courage –
Courage to face and conquer my fears,
Courage to share and endure
the ordeal of those who need me.
I promise strength –
Strength of heart to bear
whatever burdens might be placed upon me,
Strength of body to deliver to safety
all those placed within my care.
I promise the wisdom to lead,
The compassion to comfort,
And the love to serve unselfishly
whenever I am called.
As firefighters, we each place confidence in one another and our leaders as we serve in the most dangerous environments. We place faith in our PPE, that it has been tested to endure the extremely volatile environments that we boldly go into. We place faith in our SCBA, that it has been tested and will perform when we enter into places where no man could breathe without it. We place faith in the hands of our drivers as we stretch a hose line towards a fire, that when we open the nozzle that the water we need will be there.
Consider the examples given and look upon our lives from a faith-based perspective. If we as firefighters can place such trust and belief into the hands of another person, our fellow firefighter, and such great faith into the hands of our leaders who faithfully watch over us through the flames of fire, then is it too big of a leap for us to place our trust into the hands of the One who made us?
Thus far, we have defined faith and why it is important to us all (believers and non-believers alike). Now we will begin the journey into the application of our faith: putting our belief into practice.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I pray that you would continue onward to the next step with us. After all, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17)