Why Did I Become A Firefighter?

I have only shared this story with those in the fire service and those closest to me.  For too long I felt guilty for having this double life.  Some in churches I served would say, “We don’t pay you to be a firefighter.”  People would always ask, “Will you leave a church event to go fight a fire?” to which I would respond, “Only if it is my house!”  I have tried to keep the “ministry” life and “Firefighting” life separate, but God has shown me how dumb and exhausting that is.  There are a lot of similarities between the two I can share at a later date.  I post this not for my glory, only to tell the story of what God has done.  I hope you enjoy it.

Why did I become a firefighter? 

That’s a pretty good question that could take a book length post to answer.  I will try to make it as simple as possible.  Short answer, “God led me to it”. I never thought when I took a tour of a fire station in elementary school that I would one day become a firefighter.   I remember my wife and parents were not excited about it.  Why are you going to run towards something everyone else runs from?  That was a good question to which I could only answer, “What if it was you that needed help?”  I would want someone trained to help you and I wanted to do that  for others.

Fast-forward to when I am in my late 20’s.  A friend at the church I was serving was in a fire department. I thought it would be cool to see the station, trucks, equipment etc never knowing I was about to get bit!

One night I was invited to ride along on a call.  It was a nasty car wreck.  I can still see the firemen using the Jaws of Life to cut that person out of the car.  They moved in sequence like a well oiled machine.  The trucks lit up the dark night with light towers and their warning lights.  As I mentioned a moment ago, I was bit hard by the desire to be a part of such an amazing experience.  I began to hang around the station more, got to know the crew and finally got up the nerve to get my certifications to do what God was calling me to do. I was very blessed to have a Pastor and church that let me adjust my schedule for a few weeks to get the training I needed.

Once I received my certifications I began volunteering at the fire station across the street from my church in my down time.  I laugh now when I think about how I thought I was ready to take on the world because I had my certifications.  I found that veteran fire crews have a way of knocking you down a notch and I was grateful because I needed it.  Those men that showed me the trade and gave me the tools necessary to fulfill this calling will always be heroes to me. 

A move to NC led me to another department.  I thought they were very “lucky’ to have a person of my experience and knowledge.  Again fire crews have a way of humbling the proud.  I was told fairly quickly that this is not SC so quit telling us how you used to do it. When the county decided to phase out the volunteer departments in lieu of all paid staffing, it was like a death.  I remember riding the last call on the back of Tower 383.  The thought in the back of my mind was, “This is it!” There were many great years of service there, memories and friendships on both sides of the paycheck I still have to this day. 

After moving to SC I thought my volunteering was over.  I would pray to God, “Why do I have all this knowledge and experience about the fire service yet I am not using it.”  Let me tell you something, “God is only finished with you, when He decides He is finished with you!”  In 2016 I endured a bus wreck with my church, the passing of my father in Dec and the passing of my mother in May 2017.  I am not going to lie, those days were a living Hell, that God was walking me through each day.  During the bus wreck there was a calmness and expectation to help those in need because of the training and experience I received.  As I spent much time in hospitals caring for my parents, it stoked the fires of my time as an EMT.  I knew deep down inside God wasn’t done with me yet.

Our local fire department had a fundraiser picture drive, so Donna and I went to get our pictures made.  As I walked in to that fire station it had that “smell” that every firefighter knows, (Part smoke, part diesel fumes, and part gear.)  It was intoxicating.  There were some members staffing the table for the photographer and I simply asked them if they needed any help.  Little did I know I was talking to the Chief and two officers.  I went through the application process and after some time it was official, I was in a fire department again.

This time I came in humbled knowing nothing.  You see, just because you have credentials and experience, every department does things differently.  I see everyday I get to do this as a gift from God.  To go from thinking I would never be able to do this again to being given a platform to fight fire again overwhelms me with God’s grace and mercy.  It is an extension of my ministry, It is my outlet, it is part of my calling.  There is so much more to say but for the purpose of this post I will end it here.  If it were not for God, my wife, my church and my friends, this would be impossible.  

Stop telling God what He can and cannot do in and through you.  Everything you go through will lead you to Him, if you only make yourself available.

Romans 8:28 New Living Translation (NLT)
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Thanks for Reading,