by Bob Devonshire
Firefighter and PTSD Survivor
It was the 25th of September in the old firehouse,
No lives needed saving or fires to douse.
The aroma of coffee drifted up through the air,
As we waited for the next shift, that soon to be there.
We talked of our brothers, of family and friend,
How we wanted to be home, with them again.
Hanging in silence, out in the bay
Our gear at the ready, night and day.
When from under the glow of the light, high above,
We heard a sound; from a wing of a dove.
A sound that can be heard by Jakes young and old
A new recruit will arrive, is what we are told.
We sprung into action working with rag and mop
Cleaning every corner of the house from bottom to top.
Not a hose out of place or a single nozzle missing
The engine and truck did shine and glisten.
Clang! Went the bell, scaring the men.
Clang! Once more it screamed out again.
Clang! We are now silent, waiting to hear.
Clang! The name of our new brother that soon would be here.
Clang! The bell sounded, sharp as a knife.
Now as it silenced we began to hear the wail of his wife.
The bay doors opened and in he did walk,
We each put a hand out, but nobody could talk.
We welcomed home to our brother, as his eye shed a tear,
As he asked what happened and how he got here.
We walked to the watch room where the Chief sat on his chair,
“Come sit down beside me, yes come sit right there”
The Chief was an old man, hair long and white,
His presence was awesome; as our brother sat on his right.
He spoke with wisdom from his years on the job
Everyone listened; a few of us sobbed.
“My son” he said clearly “you gave it your all,
But the fire you fought tonight became your last call.”
Our brother looked up as if to say, “But why?”
When the Chief summoned his aid, as our brother began to cry.
“You came home tonight, and the price that you paid,
Was the biggest of all when your life down you laid.”
“A child of mine was saved tonight,
You did not survive, but you fought a good fight.
Your deed will be rewarded for laying your life down
For saving a total stranger, from a neighboring town.”
“But my wife, my daughter what about my brother,
Who will watch over my family, who will comfort my Mother?”
He looked around at us and we all knew his fear
We add to our ranks a hundred a year.
The Chief looked up, his voice echoing down the hall
“Your families will be fine; I give my word to you all”
Then the Chief rose up and opened his arms
He gave us a hug and said “No more alarms”
“You answered the last call, you laid down you life
My promise to you is to watch after your family, your wife”
Then off the Chief went his work here was done
We welcomed home our brother to Heavens – Station One.
— Devonshire 2011
About the Author: Robert R. Devonshire, Jr. is a Past Fire Chief of the Strasburg Fire Co #1 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Robert has written several articles that have appeared in Firehouse and Fire Chief Magazines and has presented “Working with your local fire department” at the National Facilities Management and Technology (NFMT) conference in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a PTSD survivor with a 27 year career as a volunteer firefighter/EMT. He currently runs the Facebook site Firefighter PTSD as Editor in Chief.
Other writings by Bob Devonshire
Hey Chief, Are You OK?
I Watched the Rain
Direct or Indirect ~ Is That the Question? (coping with PTSD)
I Have PTSD…. PTSD Does Not Have Me!