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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Default Recruiting a chaplain?

    I see that this is a fairly slow board, but maybe someone here can give me some advice. We are a small, rural, all-volunteer department with 30 members. We have never had a chaplain, nor even given a thought to having one. I suppose that having a chaplain would be a bit of overkill in a small department like ours.

    However, our church parish got a new priest a few months ago. I haven't gotten to know him well yet, but my wife has contact with him frequently through her job. Yesterday they were talking and he asked about my involvement with the fire department, and sort of hinted at the fact that he might like to come and "hang out" with the guys at the station some time. I know he grew up in a city that has a career fire department, and my wife said he seemed fascinated by the fact that we were all-volunteer, and curious as to how that worked.

    This priest is young, energetic, and fairly hip (for a priest). Our parish is actually his first assignment. What I'm wondering is, should I approach him about joining our department? If so, should I think about asking him to be our chaplain? I think having one would be a great idea. The priests we've had previously, I wouldn't really have considered this, but this guy seems like he'd be a good "fit" in our department...you know, he just seems like the "firefighter type", if there is such a thing.

    Anyone out there with an all-volunteer department, especially one as small as ours, have a chaplain? How does that work out? What sort of duties does he (or she)have? Is he or she also an active firefighter? I'd really like to look into this, but I'm not sure where to start. Any advice?
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"


  2. #2
    Forum Member dragonfyre's Avatar
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    Like you we are an all volunteer company with around 30 firefighters. We've had our chaplain for around 3 years now. He is the minister of a local church that one of our firefighters belongs to and like your's he asked our member about how he could give back to those who give so much to the community. It started out with an appreciation dinner for us at the church and has grown since then. We gave him a pager, a fire house coat and a white helmet

    He comes to our truck crew meetings and usually offers an opening prayer. He has offered his help to a few members who have had marital, financial or pyschological problems. He has come by during major fires to offer any help he can on the scene to make sure we are all okay.

    Most recently we were called into a neighboring township to assist in a fatal accident that involved 2 of that company's members. Needless to say they were all severely traumatized by the accident so we took over the extrication process and our chaplain went to their station to offer them any comfort he could.

    The best thing that I like about him is that even though he comes from an evangelical church he does not try to push his church or beliefs on us. He is there to help us if we need him and we all know it.

    If the rest of your company has no objections to it, give your guy a chance. There are other postings on this site regarding a chaplain's duties and there are several websites devoted to the service should he need to reach out to others/
    Steve Dragon
    FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
    Volunteers are never "off duty".
    http://www.bufd7.org

  3. #3
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    First of all let me say that no matter how small, every department, whether volunteer or full-time should have a chaplian. I serve as a chaplain for our county and city fire depts. I am also the chaplian for our ems. I was asked to be chaplain and i grew to love the people. I felt that i wanted to do more than just stand around and look dumb so now I am a fully trained with firefighter I and II certification and I am an emt. Some chaplains may want to take a more active role in the department and I think that is great. I also found that critical incident stress managment training is a great addition to your chaplains role. I was honored to be asked to become chaplain and even more honored to serve right along side of them today. I would recommend you check out www.ffcfirechaplains.org they have information on establishing a chaplain in your dept. Just be sure to remember that a chaplian may not want to just stand on the sidelines...if he wants to train and eat smoke just like you...your chaplian is more valuable. Please feel free to email me at pastormikemoore@hotmail.com if you have any more questions. Id love to help!

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    I realize that this is a pretty late response to your post, but I offer my advice (or 2 cents at least). I am in agreement with the other posts that stated all departments should have a chaplain.

    I serve as a Chaplain to my local volunteer fire department, but I am also a firefighter/driver/pump operator and I am enrolling in classes to be an instructor. My involvement in the fire service started out as Chaplain, but I wanted to "feel" what it was like to be a firefighter so that I could be the best Chaplain that I could. So, I took Firefighter I and fell in love with the job! Oh, did I mention that I am the full-time minister in the local Church as well?

    My seven years with the men and women of the fire service has been tremendous and I often recommend to my colleagues that they should join their local fire departments. It has been my privilege to offer my services as a clergy person for members life's joys and sorrows.

    I also liked the post that spoke of the priest/minister being "one of the guys". That has been my motto my entire time in the fire service. It not only fits me well, but it also eases the tension that can often be felt by have the clergy on the department.

    I am sure that I could write on and on about this topic, but I STRONGLY encourage you to seek out a Chaplain for your department. Also, encourage your department Chaplain to join the Federation of Fire Chaplains (maybe even pay the $75 yearly dues for him/her). It is a wonderful soource of information for both the "new" and "old" Chaplains.

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input, everyone....just by way of an update, I did speak to our priest and he said that he would be glad to serve as our chaplain. I met with him a couple of weeks ago and we had a nice chat. I inquired about his background and found out that he does have some training as a counselor and with stress debriefing, so that's a definite plus. I extended an open invitation for him to come by the station on a drill night and meet the guys. Unfortunately at the moment he has a prior commitment on Tuesday nights (and has had a two-week trip to Rome since I spoke to him), but I hope that soon he will be able to join us.

    I also invited him to attend our annual awards banquet in March, and I intend to formally introduce him to the department at that time, and give him a badge. In the meantime, he gave me his cell phone number and told me not to hesitate to call him if we had any issue or incident which I thought he might be of assistance with. So things are looking good!

    Again, thanks for the input, everyone...and FFDRev, good idea about the Federation of Fire Chaplains...I'm sure our Board of Directors would gladly pay the membership if I asked them to.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  6. #6
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    Chief...Glad to hear that you have made some progress! I know that you won't regret it!

    As for the Federation of Fire Chaplains, there will be some forms to fill out to "start" a Chaplaincy at your station, but they are pretty simple. I.E.: needs a chief's signature, church recommendation, etc. They also offer suggestions for uniforms for the Chaplain, but not necessary...in fact, I would be willing to assist if you should need any help.

    Congrats & Be Safe!

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