The Cultivation of Character

The Cultivation of Character

“Be on guard, Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong” 1 Corinthians 16:13

“Moral Courage-The ability to do right in the face of opposition or discouragement.” Greg Laurie

The courage to face adversity and opposition is one of the most difficult types of courage to cultivate. Why is this so?

Because it only grows through the challenges of adversity.

As firefighters we risk our lives daily in numerous ways yet when it comes to having the courage to speak up for our beliefs we often shy away from the task.

To face the enemy known as fire we take a “calculated risk” based on our training, conditions, and resources available. Yet when we are faced with a moral dilemma we should remember to make our decision based on our faith, our core values, and the truth in God’s word.

To have moral courage is to “stand firm in the faith”.  In order to develop this characteristic, one must sincerely believe. They stand firm, not because of their own strength, but because of their hope in Christ.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

The challenge lies before you and it is no easy task:

Let us be clear and speak the truth in love. When you are confronted, persecuted, or ridiculed because of your faith do not speak to them as they did to you.

Remember, Jesus is our example. When he was mocked, cursed, spit on, and persecuted He did not respond with anger but with love.

This is the mark of true courage: To respond to hate with love, to answer ridicule with wisdom, to turn the opposition into a conversation, and to lead a conversation into a relationship.

The world may hurt us, betray us, but we can have hope that Jesus didn’t let that stop Him from loving us. He loved through the hurt.

Pray that God will give us courage to love others even when they hurt us. May your words be on our lips and may your strength be in our spirit for we cannot stand on our own without you.

We stand together in this fight with truth and suffer only because we trust in a God who has already won the victory for us.


Fire Service Leadership: Its about Life Role Leadership

Developing #Leaders in the #fire service: Life Role Leadership

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is a sin.” (James 4:17).

In the fire service, we have all witnessed examples of leadership: good and bad. As a young firefighter, your character, habits, and future perspective were all shaped by those around you.  Take a moment and remember an experience where you witnessed a role model fail to do the right thing.

In that moment, how did you feel?

What impression did it leave you with?

How has that experience affected your views on leadership?

Wherever you are, whatever role you may be in, there are those that look up to you and watch everything that you do.

Whether you realize or not your role in life is in effect leading others by your actions, words, and beliefs.  I have heard it said:
“There are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the life of a Christian. Most people will never read the first four.”

As leaders in the fire service we must hold ourselves accountable. We must walk in integrity, disciple/mentor, and train others up in the way they should go.

If you profess to be a Christian and are in leadership you have found yourself in a position of double accountability. Our words must match our lives because not only have you professed a belief that preaches it you are now teaching others.

If we choose to paint a false picture of ourselves to others we are setting them up for disappointment.

As a leader in the fire service you are accountable for the lives of those in your sphere of influence: their well being, their ability to do their job, and for their future.  As a leader more is caught than taught.  Those that are in your sphere of influence are watching your daily actions or lack thereof.

Why is this important?

Any confident leader who doesn’t have a solid moral foundation will ultimately fail the organization personally and or professionally.

Anyone can learn to be competent in their profession but to be exemplary is to be the one standing up for truth, caring for others, and leading by example (at home and at work).

We are all ultimately responsible for the future of the fire service.  We are accountable for those nearest to us in our sphere of influence.

If we are not directly influencing those around us, those within our fellowship, we are failing to act and failing to lead. We are, in a sense, being morally negligent in our duties to others.

The greatest understanding that you can comprehend about becoming a leader is that you are responsible for the future of others.  How are you investing in that future right now?

The future of the fire service depends on you living out your faith, your beliefs, and your values each and every day.

“The act of Leadership is the basic part of the Christian life (Ken Blanchard)”.

Our lives, our successes and our failures, should be living testimonies of our faith.

St Francis said “In all things go and preach the Gospel and if necessary use words”.

A firefighter by definition is a civil-servant; ask yourself if your service is reflecting positively or negatively upon the future?

The seeds you sow now will reap dividends in the future.  We would all do well to perform a leadership values review with a trusted mentor to hold ourselves accountable.

Look in the mirror and remember that you have a direct impact upon the next generation of the fire service.

Through the darkness: Why do we not call for help?

Through the darkness: Why do we not call for help?

The call goes out for a possible structure fire with people trapped. It’s three in the morning and the tones jolt your tired body out of bed. You quickly move from R.E.M to R.P.D. onto a fully staffed engine company with a truck company following.  As you arrive, you find a single story light weight construction residential home with fire and smoke visible from the Alpha side. You give your size-up and as a family man you notice the bicycles laid in the driveway and a playground in the back yard.

The trained firefighter mindset kicks in but in the back of your mind you can’t help but think of your family at home. As you quickly perform your 360, your crew is stretching a line to the door, and you can tell by reading the smoke the fire is coming from the A/B side most likely a kitchen.

The first due Battalion Chief arrives, receives your report, and assumes command. You then quickly join up with your crew as they make the stretch through the front door and then it happens. A flashover occurs and the structure partially collapses. As the officer, your first priority is the well being of your crew. You locate one of the firefighters but one is lost.

Stop for a moment and consider this question:

If you were the officer would you call a MAY-DAY?

This may seem like an obvious question with an obvious answer but think about it this way:

How many firefighters have you known or heard about that have had significant problems in their life but never called for help?

And we wonder why we push too far and end up calling the MAY DAY when it’s too late…

Let us go back to our scenario:

The lost firefighter is unharmed but disoriented. He is trying to find the attack line to follow it back to safety. The blow of the collapse stunned him and turned him in the direction of the fire. As he crawls further toward the fire his mind is racing. He is angry, he can’t believe this is happening to him and his anger is causing him to lose control. All of those years of training and now it has happened to him. He is faced with the decision:

Do I keep trying to find my way out or do I call the MAY-DAY and admit I am lost?

His pride and anger is slowly eroding his situational awareness as his low air alarm activates which brings him back to reality. He finds a wall only to be pinned down by another collapse which prevents him from reaching his radio. He begins to think of his family, his life, and all of the things he wished he had said and done. No amount of skip breathing can prevent what is about to happen. He is running out of air and has no way out.

All the while, unaware to him, a massive rescue effort is underway. The company officer immediately transmitted a MAY-DAY and was able to meet up with the Rapid Intervention Crew. They were prepared. They had been listening to the radio traffic, had performed a 360 of the structure, and were aware of what was going on at the time. They quickly locate the collapse and begin searching.

The lone firefighter takes his last breath of air and holds in as the mask sucks to his face. In his mind he knows that taking off his mask is a death sentence but the need for air overpowers this thought. He grabs his regulator and is about to rip it off when another hand grabs him. He says “Hold on brother, don’t give up! Just give us another 30 seconds and we will have you some air.”
The story ends with the lost firefighter saved and the Rapid Intervention Crew alive and well.  As firefighters, we would hope that every MAY-DAY would result in a successful rescue. Sadly, in fires and in our lives some of us will be lost.

Let us consider each part of this scenario as one who has become lost in the ‘fires of life’:

A sudden and unexpected calamity occurs in your life and you rush in to prevent any further harm without thought of a back-up plan.  Then the situation takes a turn for the worse and the world “collapses” around you. In this moment, you feel “pinned down” by the weight of this problem.  Your thoughts turn to anger and your pride prevents you from calling for help. The situation seems hopeless, every effort to save yourself only worsens the problem.
Anxiety begins to weigh heavy upon your heart. The circumstances have paralyzed you and you fall upon your knees as you cry out in desperation to God:
“Please save me!”

Take a moment and think about this:

What if someone knew that in the future you would need to be rescued?

What if they knew that no matter how many people tried to save you that you still would refuse their help?

What if they knew that the only way to save you was to give up their own life for yours?

Even though at that moment, you would have never asked for their help or admitted your need for their help, this person still
chose to give up their life for you.

Why would anyone do such a thing?

Because He loves you more than you could ever imagine.

God demonstrated His great love in this:

“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

The imagery is powerful, realistic, and it is true. God chose to save us before we asked. He answered the call of our heart that we refused to make.

Many of us, including myself, only chose to call out in a moment of desperation. This is where many of us meet God. When there is no one else to save us, no back-up plan, no emergency fund, and no one to call.

The plan from the very beginning was to save us all. As a firefighter, you understand the plan of redemption even if you aren’t a Christian.

One who calls for help is saved by another that he or she has never met, and never can repay what has been done for them.

Sound familiar?

Each and every moment is a gift. God has made a way home, a personal rescue plan, just for you. His name is Jesus Christ. He will reach through your darkness, give you the breath of life, and bring you through the fire into the safety of His arms.

It is our prayer that you would come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior. For He has already rescued you.

Kill The Flashover: there’s nothing new under the sun


Door Control: There’s nothing new under the sun.

Project Kill The Flashover is finishing up a week here at South Carolina Fire Academy. Even though the weather changed our plans from testing extreme fire behavior to dealing with extreme weather behavior; the amount of learning that took place was huge!

The “Flow Path” of learning was intense. Some of the world’s smartest minds were here from Germany, Canada, Sweden, and all across the USA.

One of the most profound pieces of learning that has occurred is that this is not “new information.”

“On the first discovery of fire, it is the utmost consequence to shut, and keep shut all windows, doors, and other openings. It may often be observed, after a house has been on fire, that one floor is comparatively untouched, while those above and below are nearly burned out, this arises from a door in that particular floor…

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#Firefighters -Have you lost your way?


#Firefighters Have you become lost in the fires of life?

Separated, darkness surrounds you, your air is running out, and then you see it: the way out!

Have you ever been lost in a fire?

Or more commonly:

Have you become lost in the fire service?

Many of us started out with a vibrant passion with seemingly unstoppable ambition only to find ourselves feeling lost and alone. Those around us seem paralyzed and impervious to encouragement.

In a profession that deals in adversity, we have often failed to realize that adversity is also a part of our life. It is an opportunity as much as it is a painful reality.

The reality is this:

Those who face hardship are the ones who can relate to others who are suffering.

Are you lost? Have you fallen away?

Are you tired of cliche answers and half-hearted responses to your pain?

“The sacrifices…

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The Ultimate #Fire Ground Commander

The Ultimate Fire Ground Commander:

Isaiah 43:2

“When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown!

When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you.”

Who is able to:

To stretch the right line, to the right place, at the right time…

To be on point, never missing a cue of a tense situation…

To stay calm no matter the chaos and provide the right words to inspire others…

To mitigate every circumstance with the proper tactic…

To be well equipped and always ready even when others fade…

To have the ladder at the window at just the right moment to make the rescue…

To reach through the darkness and make the grab..

To breathe life back into someone when all hope is lost…

To extricate from an impossible set of circumstances as if the metal couldn’t hold them…

To do all this and never boast, never seek recognition, and prepare to do it all over again…

This is the embodiment of servant leadership. This is an analogy of what God does for us each and every day through Jesus Christ.

If you will let Him, He will take command of your life. He will never lose track of you. He will never forget you. He will always be there for you. And His light will shine though any darkness.

For He has conquered death and defeated the fires of hell.

He is the Ultimate Fire Ground Commander and His name is Jesus Christ.

Will you let Him take command of your life?

#Firefighters -Have you lost your way?

#Firefighters Have you become lost in the fires of life?

Separated, darkness surrounds you, your air is running out, and then you see it: the way out!

Have you ever been lost in a fire?

Or more commonly:

Have you become lost in the fire service?

Many of us started out with a vibrant passion with seemingly unstoppable ambition only to find ourselves feeling lost and alone. Those around us seem paralyzed and impervious to encouragement.

In a profession that deals in adversity, we have often failed to realize that adversity is also a part of our life. It is an opportunity as much as it is a painful reality.

The reality is this:

Those who face hardship are the ones who can relate to others who are suffering.

Are you lost? Have you fallen away?

Are you tired of cliche answers and half-hearted responses to your pain?

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart He will not despise” Psalm 51:17

There are those who won’t invalidate you, who will listen, and will simply be there for you. They are “fellow laborers” who have been through painful moments.

They have not forgotten how it felt but more importantly they remember how they longed for the comfort of one who understood.

They are the all around you. When you feel lost an alone, call out to God, and the answer to your prayer may be closer than you think.

2 Corinthians 1:3

“What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.

And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.”

Pass on encouragement and be ready to receive it.