Firefighting is and always will be an inherently dangerous profession marked by selfless acts of bravery, commitment, and sacrifice. The creeds and oaths that are spoken by those who embrace this calling are not taken lightly. Consider the words of Benjamin Franklin that were written in 1733 as he observed how fires were being fought in Philadelphia:
Soon after a fire is seen and cry’d out,
the Place is crowded by active Men of different Ages, Professions and Titles
who, as of one Mind and Rank,
apply themselves with all Vigilance and Resolution, according to their Abilities,
to the hard Work of conquering the increasing fire.
What Is Faith & Why Is It Important To A Firefighter
Benjamin Franklin recognized that these men came together in one accord, united in one purpose, and worked diligently to conquer the fire. These men exercised great faith by coming together from their various places and positions, and worked together, trusting that each man would not abandon them in their task. Whether an individual believes in God or not, they all have a certain amount of faith. Each person has faith that when they flip a light-switch that the light will come on, a husband practices faith when he leaves for work that his wife will remain faithful in his absence, and parents practice faith as they allow their 16-year-old child to drive alone for the first time.
In all of the examples mentioned, faith is an action. This powerful active word is one of the most important assets that a firefighter can possess. This asset known as faith literally means “to believe or to trust.”
In all facets of life, men and women practice the act of faith each day.
Sadly, many of us are disappointed by material possessions, our careers, and/or our loved ones when they fail to honor our great trust that we have placed in them. This can cause many of us to lose faith and to stop trusting others. Perhaps, someone who is reading this has been disappointed in life by others, by the fire service, or they feel disappointed by God.
As firefighters, we understand faith from an even more meaningful perspective than most professions. As mentioned in the words of Benjamin Franklin, firefighters place great faith in each other by literally trusting one another with their lives. Trust is a confidence that is possessed by the strength of one’s belief in something greater than themselves. This trust is built and strengthened over time.
Consider this: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
How do we have confidence in the unseen? Firefighters practice this confidence daily. Firefighters crawl through areas of zero visibility where even thermal imaging cameras fail. This confidence comes from study, communication, training, exercise, and by surrounding themselves with mentors. Each of these areas is critically important in providing an environment for growth. A firefighter hopes in what they do not see because of an underlying confidence that has been instilled through these disciplines.
Faith is a confidence that we all have. The next several articles will begin to unfold why faith is important to us as firefighters and how we can apply this in our lives. If this article has challenged or stirred you in any way, take a leap of faith with us and continue onward in this journey. As a reader, it will cost only a few moments of your time but if you choose to seek more the rewards are eternal. “Everyone who asks will receive, everyone who searches will find.” (Matthew 7:8)
Until next time keep asking, keep searching, and have faith!