The Fire Chaplain – A Ministry of Presence
Louisiana has 159 volunteer fire departments, 112 combination departments and 23 career/paid fire departments.
Fire chaplains serve with volunteer, combination and career departments throughout our state, and the world.
We are to be there with firefighters as they go into burning buildings, work vehicle accidents, respond to hazardous incidents, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorist threats and other critical incidents. We are to be there to serve those who serve.
Fire chaplains are to be there, listen and love; to provide spiritual and emotional support to firefighters and crisis victims, as well as to serve fire department administrations, and others who need help along the way in emergency crisis and grief.
Basically, a fire chaplain is a spiritual presence in the fire department and emergency services world. The word “chaplain” originated from the Medieval Latin cappella, meaning “cape.” St. Martin of Tours is said to have provided comfort, given his cape to a beggar on a cold, wet night and delivered him to a shelter.
The fire chaplain drapes his cape around the crisis victim and finds him temporary shelter in the storm of crisis. The fire chaplain is first and foremost a servant; first, last and always – a servant of those in need. One of the titles of Bishop is “Servus Servoum Dei” – servants of the servants of God. That’s what chaplaincy is all about – serving those who serve.
The fire chaplain represents the following:
1) the God who calls him/her to the chaplaincy;
2) the fire service which authorizes his/her ministry;
3) the church/synagogue/mosque who endorsed him/her;
4) the chaplain’s religious denomination or fellowship;
5) other fire department chaplains;
6) the Federation of Fire Chaplains and the LFCN;
7) the firefighters of the chaplain’s department;
8) the chaplain’s family and
9) the chaplain’s community.
Appointed and Endorsed:
-The fire chaplain is appointed by his fire chief and is endorsed by his/her religious affiliation;
-The fire chaplain serves non-denominational and non-sectarian in his/her chaplaincy;
– the fire chaplain is a “ministry of presence” in time of crisis;
-The fire chaplain never free-lances; he/she is always accountable. As the firefighter is accountable to command, so is the chaplain accountable at all times during his/her duties as a chaplain. Standard Operating Guidelines for chaplains can be download below. The LFCN SOGs are a work-in-progress. The guidelines are currently updated, revised and being added to. You may see the revisions below:
LFCN Operating Guidelines R7
The fire chaplain’s commission comes from Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to give good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted… to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
The fire chaplain is to bring hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. Being called to the fire chaplaincy is one of the greatest opportunities a minister can ever receive.