Firefighters: An Overseer, A Noble Task Often Neglected

Firefighters: An Overseer, A Noble Task Often Neglected

An Overseer-A Noble Task often neglected:

“Early on he worked more than 64 hours a week arriving home between 8 and 10 pm each night. The cost of the lifestyle was his marriage. ‘All I worked for was wiped out with one phone call to the divorce lawyer.” An excerpt from Faith on the Fire Line by Fellowship of Christian Firefighters.

The Fire Service is a demanding profession. For those who are blessed to be a part of this noble calling can often fall victim into the trap of ambition. At first, our efforts seem noble; after all we are bettering ourselves to serve our community which also helps to insure our safety thereby showing the utmost regard for our loved ones at home, right?

It starts with a spark and we are the tinder. Before we know we are a roaring fire. We are consuming everything in our path that is fuel: textbooks, conferences, classes, on-line material, and on and on…

But then something happens, we look forward at all of our accolades, knowledge, and skills but there is an emptiness that is creeping into our heart. What is this? Why do we feel this way?

It is conviction. In the midst of our search for success and helping others we have forgotten about our first priority: Our family

Another class that we teach and we miss another ball game….

Another hour at the desk late at night and our spouse falls asleep in tears feeling more and more alone…

Another conference we attend away from family, and our children are growing up…

Another promotion we earn and responsibility we take on, while our role at home is diminishing and fading…

And then we hit rock bottom…

The pinnacle of success is not the pinnacle of significance. A thousand lives impacted and saved on the fire ground while we neglect our own family is the ultimate hypocrisy that many of us, including myself, have tried to justify as “part of the job.”

Neglecting our family is not part of the job! Our ever increasing divorce rates should not be part of the job. How are we to serve the public and set the example of integrity if we fail to serve our loved ones at home?
It has to be a balance. God designed work but he also designed rest.

Exodus 34:21
21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest ;(AU) even during the plowing season and harvest (AV) you must rest.”

How much do we rest? Do we rest with our families? Or do we seek rest in other places away from them?

His plan for our life is to have a relationship with Him through Jesus, model that relationship within our families (our first crew), and then model that relationship to others.

As firefighters, we are “overseers”, those called to watch over others. It is a great responsibility but yet there is one greater: Our role as leaders in our family. They are our first crew. They are our home church. They are directly under our care and supervision.

As a husband or a wife, you have been given a great blessing and a responsibility. It is to take care of those in your household and lead them in the “way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)

Consider this:

1 Timothy 3: 1-5

Here is a trustworthy saying : Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife,temperate,self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

In closing, prayerfully consider this application-Balancing our checkbook:

In our lives, we must be careful that as we serve others that we do not forget about our most noble calling which is to love, serve, and lead our families.

Let us all take a moment, and perform a spreadsheet of the commitments in our lives. Begin by adding the hours that we work (all of our jobs), the hours we sleep, the hours dedicated to other commitments (studies, writing, extracurricular activities, time away from home, etc.) and then perform this simple equation:

168 hours in a week –Work-sideline job- sleep-extra activities & commitments=time we have left over.

24 hours X 7 days: 168 hours

Average Firefighter work week: 56 hours

Sideline job: 30 hours a week

Average Firefighter sleep cycle: (4-6 hours a night) 48 hours a week (should be 56 hours a week to be healthy)

Extra Curricular Activities: Gym, writing, school: 10 hours a week

This leaves 24 hours a week for our families. Or to put it in terms that really hit home, 3.85 hours a day with our loved ones!

In our homes and in life this isn’t a guarantee that those 3.85 hours means that everyone will magically be there to spend time with us. What about their commitments? Your spouse’s job, your children’s school and activities. What about life?

Now how much time do we really have with our loved ones?
They say, if you want to know what is most important to you in life start by looking at your checkbook. Whatever receives the most of our financial capabilities is usually the most important. Let us, all look at our ‘checkbook’ of life and start managing our ‘life resources’ more in line with what is most important to us:

Our families.

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Turn the Test into a Testimony

Turning the Test into a Testimony:

The battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.
—1 Samuel 17:4

In life, we can become so wounded by our trials that we begin to give up. Our focus becomes so limited that all we can see is the depth of our pain. Our heart is so heavy that we see no victory in these moments.

But wait..

“Open your eyes.God has surrounded you with people in need of His care. It’s your turn.Wait for the kingdom by participating in it.” D.Schmitt

How will your life remembered?

Will your life be remembered as one who struggled and gave up or one who struggled and helped others?

Will your life have an impact on others and whether or not you cared enough to make a difference. This is accountability on the highest level.

A difficult principle to grasp is this: your pain can provide purpose.

Your life and its experiences have divinely prepared you to help others through trials, tribulations, and failures.

When you share your pain and open up your wounds that is when others will feel that they can share their pain with you.

There are those close to you that are in need of fellowship. Their facial expression may hide their silent cries for comfort but you know better.

Why?

Because you have suffered, you have been hurt, and you have experienced pain therefore you know what to look for.

Take your tribulations and show the devil that he has not won. You are not defeated!

By God’s grace you will not only rise again but you will dare to share what you have been through to help others.

Open up and realize that you are in a mission field. Their are many people around you right now that are divine appointments set by God that only you were meant to help.

This is your moment will you take the next step?

Firefighter Leadership: The Value of Listening

Firefighter Biblical Leadership Study:

The power of listening and the danger of anger.

“Dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for anger will not help you live the right kind of life God wants.”

A firefighter who is always taking on the radio is only sending a message and not receiving one.

When we talk too much & listen too little, we communicate to others that we think our ideas are more important than theirs.

In a world of constant flow of information we fail to communicate more than ever.

Why is this?

Our hunger and thirst for knowledge is great but our patience is short.

Many lack the sustained concentration to read more than 140 characters. This creates a dialogue of shallow waters where we will only listen if some one is brief, concise, and to the point.

Our relationships are long and meaningful. We should give those in our fellowship our attentive ear whether it be in conversation or the written word so we can show the depth of our love.

Let us not invalidate others simply because we have not developed the critical listening skills and patience to understand them.

As we listen, we learn, and we show that we care.

In part 2 we will discuss Anger: one letter away from Danger.

God Bless

The Silent 911

The Silent 911-Responding Before the Call:

The call comes in, you respond, ready and able because you have prepared for the call.

As you respond, you have already began your size-up, and have referenced the greatest tactical hard-drive ever created:

Your Mind!

As you arrive, you assess what you see against your countless simulations, previous calls, and training experiences. You then formulate your Incident Action Plan and begin to execute it.

As conditions warrant you adjust accordingly insuring a successful outcome.

The difference in this incident from all the others is this:

You have responded to the call for help by a fellow brother or sister in the fire service.

As a firefighters we do a tremendous job of serving the public and going above and beyond the call for our fellow firefighters. But what about the moments leading up to the call for help?

If you could have seen the signs of the following would you respond ahead of the call?

Let us introduce a new acronym to help us WATCH out for our brothers and sisters.

W.A.T.C.H: The Firefighter Size-up Acronym:

W: Withdrawl- (Confinement) A once passionate, dedicated, and driven firefighter suddenly loses interest
and fades into the background. Has anyone taken the time to check on them? Is their company officer aware of the problem?

A- Anger, Anxiety, And more…

A firefighter who has dramatic mood changes, is suddenly angered by small events, and is easily irritated. These are signs of an impending flashover in their life.

Some examples of such sudden changes are:

feelings hopelessness, loss of interest in daily activities, sudden weight loss, sleep changes, loss of energy, self loathing, and concentration problems.

T-Traumatic Stress (PTSD): as much as 37% of firefighters suffer from PTSD

A firefighter who seems troubled by a past event or call. They avoid anything that reminds reminds them of the call. And they seem to have increased anxiety and emotional arousal.

C-Coping Mechanisms:

The majority who face great stress look for ways to alleviate it. There are healthy ways to cope such as: exercise, prayer, and meditation, etc.

Then there are unhealthy coping mechanisms such as: excessive drinking/substance abuse, reckless behaviors (otherwise known as the passive suicide attempt), pornography (an attempt to escape) and participating in unhealthy relationships (for example: having an affair).

H-Harming themself: A firefighter who shows any or all of these size-up factors is on the verge of harming themself. They are at a greater risk of suicide and are in need of help. They begin to feel as if they are a burden to everyone. You may notice them start to hesitate at calls that they were once confident at. They have a negative self image and feel
as if they do not belong anymore. They may even talk openly of harming themselves.

What can we do about this problem?

The fire service is a brotherhood. We take of each other from recruit school even after retirement. This responsibility falls upon all of our shoulders from the rookie to the Chief of the department.

Be informed: Each member should be trained to watch for these critical firefighter factors.

Suicide, PTSD, Addiction, Anxiety, & Depression.

The firefighter Behavior Health Alliance is a great resource for firefighters in this area.

Another great resource is 1stResponder Texas which is a comprehensive resource for 1st responders http://t.co/D2M4NUHY4l

Divorce: 9 out of 12 firefighter marriages end in divorce. Some great resources for marriage are:

Firefighter Wife by Lori Mercer. They will be having a firefighter marriage conference in July this year in Chicago. See her website for details and additional resources. She has also created an online community for firefighter wives and more!

http://firefighterwife.com/

Some other great marriage and family resources are: Focus on the family’s weekend to remember marriage conference, visionary marriage ministries.

Each firefighter is trained to recognize the signs of many dangers.

You are now faced with a new training challenge. Applying your training to recognize the signs of danger in your fellow firefighters:

Who in your fellowship has exhibited the signs of a ‘Silent 911’ call?

Be on the W.A.T.C.H. and respond to their call. Take a proactive role in saving our own today.

The Ultimate #Fire Ground Commander

BringingBackBrotherhood

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…

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If Death is Not the End…

If Death is Not the End…

brandon andress

My grandma died when she was 62 and that was way too early.

Our rides in her beat up old red car that we lovingly referred to as “the Klunker,” our hot summer evenings talking on her front porch, and our quick trips to the local restaurant with the best milkshakes in town… were all cut short by an insidious and dreadful disease called Alzheimer’s.

She would never get a chance to meet my beautiful wife or hold my kids in her arms.

Neither would my grandpa who died of cancer when he was 80.

When I held his hand as he lie asleep in his hospital bed just a couple of days before he passed, I thought about the countless nights I spent at his house, the smell of breakfast and pipe smoke each morning, his flat top haircut, and either a Bible on his lap or Andy Griffith…

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Fire Ground Decision Making; For Your Life:

Fire Ground Decision Making; For Your Life:

The opening scene: A House Fire, reported occupants entrapped, at 123 Anywhere Street.” Dispatch to all responding units “We are upgrading this as we are receiving multiple calls.”

The firefighter takes a breath and begins the journey to the call.

In life, we are all preparing for something. It may be a job, a relationship, or a new role. Each moment is brought about by the individual making a conscious decision to move in that direction. As firefighters, we spend numerous hours learning, applying, and mastering the basics as each skill set builds upon one another preparing us for the overall responsibilities of the job.

Consider this:

What about the point in our lives where we realize the next step for us is a relationship with Jesus Christ?

Many of us, including myself, have ran away or hid from the responsibilities that seem to be woven into our heart. Yet each of our goals in life have been a process of becoming or taking on this role. We were not born as a firefighter nor were we were born as a Christian.

“A man becomes a Christian; he is not borne one.” Tertullian

Each question that continues to repeat itself in your life can only be answered in God. How can this be? What does it mean to have a relationship with Jesus? Isn’t this all a bunch of hypocrites roaming around living false lives?

“In all the world is a stage and men and women are merely actors” Shakespeare.

As firefighters, we have all known the ones who come to work, do the minimum amount of work required, and seemed to be able to quote the policies that protect them rather than the performance that is needed to protect our citizens.

Does their lack of dedication, false sincerity, and mediocrity prevent you from being a more passionate firefighter?

Does their lack of belief in what you believe make the calling of a firefighter any less true?

No.

Each of us is born with a void to be filled with something more. Each of us try to fill that void with financial security, pleasure, achievements, relationships with others, and on and on…

Yet each and every time we crest the hill of that “something” we are only temporarily satisfied. It leaves us longing for the next moment and we embrace the thought that “if only” then we will be happy.

Back to our opening scene:

This is where you are the Firefighter serving as the Acting Officer. You have arrived at that pivotal moment where your words, your choices, and your actions will make the difference in someone else’s world.

What if the decisions you are about to make are for your life? What if the symbolic house that is on fire with people trapped is your life with all of the cries of your heart longing to be answered?

Do you walk away? Absolutely not… You make the call.

This is how to make the call:

Step 1: Find a quiet place. Close out all of the distractions and pray. You may have never prayed before. It is ok, God knows your heart and if you speak the words, no matter how jumbled, God hears the intent behind your words. Eloquence is not a requirement to speak to God. All He requires is your willingness.

“Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I know in my heart that I am meant for something more. I now know what that something more is: It is You. Please forgive me of my sins, not because of anything I have done, but because I believe in this:

Jesus took my place on a cross and was crucified and “that Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:12). Three days later he rose from the grave erasing the power of death.

He has erased my past, given me the strength to handle my present, and my future is secured because of Him.

Step 2: Go and find another believer that you respect. Tell them that you have accepted Jesus in your heart and that you want to know what the next step is. Ask them for a Bible if you don’t currently own one.

Step 3: As one who sought to become a firefighter you went through a process, received training, and then became able to help, serve, and teach others.

The same model exists in your new Christian life. The first step is to locate a group of believers who can be your mentors. They can guide you along your journey.

Just as in firefighting we need the valuable counsel of our senior firefighters to show us the way; so it will be in your Christian life.

Step 4: You have accepted Christ, you have found a group to help you, and now it is time to find a church. This can be a difficult process but it is a necessary one.

As in the fire service, we work together to accomplish our mission; so it will be in your Christian life.
Look for a church that teaches from the Bible, serves the community, and offers classes to instruct its
members in God’s word.

Step 5: Letting go of the old and embracing the new.

This is the most difficult part for any one who has accepted the call of Christ to be “a new creation.”

How will my friends and family react if they don’t believe the way I do?

What do I do when the old things I used to do now bother me and my friends don’t understand?

How do I wrestle with all of this conflict inside of me to do the right thing when others continue to live any way that they choose?

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Any firefighter who has chosen to go beyond the call and train till they cannot get it wrong understands the opposition from the group that tries to slow or derail their train.

As in the Christian life, we will face opposition, persecution, and ridicule for our beliefs. Don’t be surprised by it, expect it, because God’s love makes us uncomfortable. It causes us to lash out in defense of ourselves as we try to justify our actions.

It is an interesting path that we will walk as we love others, encourage others, and serve them; we will be ridiculed, opposed, and persecuted for doing good. Remember, Brotherhood is a biblical concept; God doesn’t want you to be alone. His word says:

“Where two or more are gathered I am there.” and He says “A three fold cord is not easily broken.”

That is why it is so important to have a strong group of Christian Mentors to counsel us, encourage us, and disciple us.

Without the fellowship of our brothers and sisters we can become easily discouraged and give up.

If you have chosen to make the Ultimate Fire Ground Decision, please email us. We would love to hear your story and provide support along the way.

God Bless