by Kevin Coffey
Chicago Fire Department Firefighter (retired)
How did you become a member of the fire service? The circumstances surrounding any one of us and how we found ourselves on our particular fire department are infinite. Perhaps firefighting was in your family, or perhaps you just had a fascination with the lights and sirens of passing fire trucks since you were a child. Maybe it was presented as an option at a high school career fair. It might be that you witnessed the towers fall on 9-11 and you just knew that the fire service was your destiny. And probably common to us all was a desire to help people in their times of emergency need.
Then there was a pathway you had to pursue to get into the fire service. There were classes to take, trainings to attend, skills to master, exams to pass, and certifications to accomplish. There may have been a physical agility test, a background check, and an interview process. And then one happy day you officially put on the firefighter uniform for the first time – you had been assigned to your fire department – whether volunteer, paid-on-call or career.
So here you are in the fire service and specifically a member of the (insert your dept.) Fire Department. I’d like to suggest to you that through the many circumstances and efforts that have brought you to the fire service, from a faith viewpoint there is one over-riding reason that you are where you are at – God has called you. The Bible says: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received”. So you are invited to embrace the awesome spiritual reality that at some time, somewhere, somehow, God pointed at you and He said “I call you to the fire service!” And that call is to your fire department right now at this time in your history. Now, if you are like most of us humans, you want to know how – with all the independent decisions and efforts that you put into attaining your fire service position – that all along it was God’s calling that landed you were you are at. Well, I’ll tell you – I don’t have a clue. Our calling from God is embraced by faith, and faith is a gift God gives along with His invitations to believe.
I have compiled a list of Faith-Affirming Invitations for Firefighters out of my own fire service experience, and this is the first: God invites the firefighter to embrace his/her work in the fire service as a calling from Him. So you are hereby invited – invited by God – to a faith that recognizes that He is the source of your fire service calling. And since He is the one who has called us, the Bible tells us to “serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do”. If you would like a complete list of the Faith-Affirming Invitations, just send me your email address and I’ll get them out to you. As always, if I can be of any help or encouragement to you or your fire department, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
About the Author: Kevin Coffey is a 30 year retired Chicago firefighter and has been in the fire service for 34 years. He is currently a firefighter/chaplain for the Paxton Fire Department and the chaplain for the Illinois Firefighters Association. He is also a field instructor for the Illinois Fire Service Institute. Kevin and his wife, Lorraine, have six children and six grandchildren and reside in rural central Illinois. You may contact Kevin through his EMAIL.