06-05-1999, 04:34 PM #1scaniaFirehouse.com Guest
What kind of help does the chaplains provide?
I would like to know of what a ff chaplin can do for victems of a fire and to the responding units.As I can understand from the memorial thoughts of lodd´s the chaplains do a lot of good work.In sweden the fire depratments usually call upon the church chaplins in case of a tradgic fire like that one we had in a disco last october.I would be great full for any response from any ff chaplains out there in cyber space.
06-05-1999, 06:37 PM #2Charles VeselyFirehouse.com Guest
I am a both a firefighter of some 10yrs standing (Rank: Deputy Captain)and a minister. My fire service (NSW Rural Fire Service, Australia)commenced stetting up chaplaincies about 5 years ago. At that time there was only a state chaplain, Major Don Woodland of The Salvation Army. As our service is divided into shires , I thought that it would be good to have a shire based chaplain of our own. So I made approach to our Command and our local Salvation Army officer to take this role on. It worked out well and has been in operation ever since.
I was too closely attached to operational fire fighting to take the role on myself, although I have from time to time worked in such a role as well.
The role of a chaplain is important. they need to be the listener to the members when job is getting to them. They need to offer comfort and support during times of crisis in a members' life. They also are a great resource person when say a family loose their home.
I am happy to discuss the role of a chaplain in greater detail just drop me a line directly to my email address.
06-12-1999, 12:47 AM #3lfsFirehouse.com Guest
Thanks for opening up this thread. I'll be interested in the answers other chaplains post. To email@example.com, I hope you will post your discussion here, not keep it to private e-mail messages. I'd also like to know how you do it in Australia.
I've been a volunteer fire fighter in the USA for 22 years. I've been a clergyman for 13 years and a fire chaplain for 12 years. Like most things in the fire service, I guess each community works out its own ways of dealing with things, a little [or a lot] different from other communities. The same seems true for Fire Chaplaincy. I have friends in the Federation of Fire Chaplains [check out their web page, linked elsewhere to this site] who take different approaches. I can only tell you about my ministry.
Often when a victim of fire, accident, or some other disaster, becomes agitated or hysterical or overcome with grief, the other members of the fire service realize it and care and want to help [that is why they are fire fighters -- they want to help people], but they do not know how to deal with this problem. Sometimes it is the Officer In Charge who sends for me. sometimes it is just another fire fighter, and often I am already on the scene and I move in when I see the need. The others are glad I am there and give me any support I ask for.
Usually I begin ministry to an out of control victim by telling who I am and touching them, hugging, holding a hand, placing an arm on their shoulder, whatever seems appropriate. They are feeling overwhelmed and isolated by their loss at that moment, perhaps saying they cannot go on living without whatever it is they have lost. They are alone in 'the valley of the shadow of death.' My intervention begins to break that isolation. They are no longer alone. As they begin to calm down and be able to talk with me, often I will tell them, "You maybe cannot believe it now, but you will survive this. Your life will go on." This seems to help. I am offering myself to God at this time, my hands and feet and self to be God's rod and staff to comfort the victim.
As they calm down further, I try to get their own support system mobilized. If they are not yet on the scene I offer to call family, friends, clergy, or whomever they want to help them. [I'll use a neighbor's phone or fire service channels, whatever it takes.] I encourage these others as they arrive and tell them about recovery details the victim may not remember -- call the Red Cross, the insurance agent, whatever.
I will also arrange to get food and drink if needed for the victims, and information. Often I have to interpret technical details such as why the fire fighters are tearing the walls open on the house or taking the doors off the car. I will act as go-between with the Chief, perhaps arranging salvage and recovery of some special possessions or getting permission to enter the premises once it is safe.
In addition to this crisis ministry with victims, I train and answer alarms and fight fire with the rest of the members of my company. I share in the work, the clean up, and the banter and relaxation. We get to know each other and become friends. Then whenever a serious issue comes up, most of the members are comfortable talking it over with me.
I also do the ceremonial ministries -- funerals, weddings, prayers at meetings and meals. These are important as well, but I believe the true work of the fire chaplain is in the midst of the emergencies the fire service responds to every day.
I hope others will use this forum to describe their approaches to being fire chaplains.
06-12-1999, 11:19 PM #4Charles VeselyFirehouse.com Guest
Just a few notes on chaplaincy in Australia:
From what I understand, in the US people in general are more warm to Christianity that here in Aust. Sociologists debate the reasons, but by and large, people in Aust. have a distant feeling for the Church and her Clergy. It may the Irish Catholic history? Therefore when chaplaincies started here, there was at first a polite but distant approval.
the work was pioneered here by The Salvation Army, which most in Aust. don't see as a church, but as the group who gave them or grandpa a cup of tea during the war. At every disaster the "Sallys" have become known, respected and supported. Thus it was ideal for them to start such a work.
Members of the Fire Services felt comfortable talking with a "Sally Bloke /Girl."
From this pavement of the way by our brothers and sisters in "The Army" we from other denominations have gained more acceptance in ministry to and in the Fire Service.
I wrote to Viking, that Chaplains and ministers just need to be prepared to listen and engage in converstion with the person who comes to them.
Here in Aust. many come quietly and in secret for worry "what their mates (friends) would think if they found out that they went to see the padre."
Maybe some of these issues are similar in the US, I would be intersted to find out.
06-13-1999, 09:10 AM #5Sunflower_FD_21Firehouse.com Guest
Check the thread -- The Role of a Fire Service Chaplain -- it is an earlier discussion begun about the ministry of fire chaplains ...
I pastor a church, serve as volunteer chaplain for our local volunteers, and as rehab officer for our county fire service ...
Here is a statement of purpose used by my department ...
The Fire Chaplain's primary focus is on the spiritual and crisis needs of the Department and whatever situations the firefighters may encounter where the Fire Chaplain may be of service to both the firefighters and the community.
The Fire Chaplain:
* Will be on call 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
* Will seek to know the firefighters and their functions.
* Will attend the regular meetings of the Department.
* Will participate in so far as is practical in all training exercises.
* Will seek to strengthen Department morale and offer encouragement.
* Will provide a pastoral presence as needed or as requested.
* Will assist at the fire scene as directed by Department officers.
* Will provide rehab services and as a trained First Responder be alert at the fire scene to men who may need first aid. And, assist in any way possible when department personnel are injured, ill, or deceased.
* Will extend comfort to fire victims.
* Will assist in getting emergency aid from the Red Cross or other agency.
* Will seek to explain to the victims what the firefighters are doing.
* Any communications a person makes to the Fire Chaplain is strictly on a confidential basis.
07-02-1999, 08:19 PM #6KarlFirehouse.com Guest
I am the chaplain of a small department in Texas. In addition to the responsibilities mentioned by cyvesely and Larry, I also work at putting in place programs to aid the citizens of my community, such as the free overnight stay program for fire/crime victims. If a family is displaced by fire and their own support system has not yet begun functioning, certain hotels in our city have graciously agreed to provide them a free overnight stay. They are given a letter or voucher (provided to us by the hotel management) for a free one night stay which they in turn present to the desk clerk. Just another way the fire chaplain can help lessen the impact of a traumatic event for the victims. I encourage every chaplain I meet or correspond with to think creatively and pray fervently about the ways to minister to both the firefighters and the community he serves.
In His peace,
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