Q: I would like to become a fire chaplain. How do I go about obtaining this position with a fire department?
A: The chaplain for a fire department may be clergy or a lay person, male or female, clergy or firefighter. The chaplain is one who takes on the role of providing spiritual and other support to those in the fire service and those affected by emergency crisis. Although there are many different levels of service, the chaplain is normally one who is appointed to the office by his or her fire department or other emergency service agency and has been endorsed by his or her own denominational authority, church, synagogue, or other religious organization. The chaplain ministers to the needs of people from all religious backgrounds without proselytizing for his or her own affiliation.
In some places the fire chaplain is a local pastor who volunteers his or her time to minister to the particular needs of the firefighters in that community. Another location might have a firefighter who is living out a call of his or her faith by serving as chaplain to the other firefighters in the department. Many chaplains are volunteers, some receive reimbursement for their expenses, and others may be paid part-time or full-time by the fire department or by an outside agency. Some raise their own funding much like independent missionaries, relying on local churches and groups to provide money.
When firefighters respond to a burning building and focus attention on saving life and protecting property, the fire chaplain responds alongside but is focusing on ministering to the needs of the firefighters and the needs of the crisis victims. Victims of an emergency crisis may be the family who has just been burned out of their home, or the scared and confused spouse of a heart attack patient. They could be the mother of a teenager who just committed suicide or the frightened children whose parents are being transported to the hospital after a traffic accident. Firefighters are trained and able to deal with the varied emergency crises of our modern world. Fire chaplains are equipped and called to deal with the people being affected by those same events.
Models for the ministry are as varied as fire departments themselves. Some are quite simple, with a single chaplain volunteering to serve a single department. Others get much more developed with several chaplains serving multiple agencies on a rotating basis under the direction of a team coordinator. Information on different models and how to start a chaplain program are included in this material. Basically the fire chaplain is a spiritual presence in the world of fire department and emergency services. For more information, please check out our Training Manual.
If you are interested in being a fire chaplain for your local fire department, your first and most important step is to reach out to the fire department by contacting the fire chief and setting up a meeting to speak with him or her about the needs of their department for a chaplaincy program. From there, you will be able to determine what your next steps should be.
Q: I would like to know when and where your training for basic fire chaplains classes are held.
A: All of our training can be found on our calendar of events.
Q: How do I purchase a training manual?
A: You can purchase a training manual through our online shop or by mailing a check or money order. For more information visit the Training Manual section of our website.
Q: What are dues paying For?
A:To be honest, the greatest benefit cannot be measured in dollars and cents; it is our members.By joining the Federation, you have joined a well-respected international organization with a rich history. In the 70’s, our founder and current Executive Director worked many long hours and made many trips to Washington, D.C., to work with Congressman Jim Wright, to push through legislation which led to the current Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB) and the formation of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Our organization provides many years of Chaplaincy experience through its network of Chaplains worldwide. Our network of Chaplains number 1,484, represent all faiths, live on six continents, and collectively have about 15,000 years of experience. At any time an individual can approach any of our members and be guaranteed prayer support. Our support does not stop there. You can seek advice and receive peer support when facing difficult issues. We offer spouse support through the recognition of the unique needs of a Chaplain’s spouse and they too offer a network of support for each other. As a member you have a tremendous amount of resources at your disposal. The FFC routinely sends Chaplains to large scale disasters, working with local Chaplains to meet the needs of Firefighters and Emergency Medical Services and their families.
As you can see, this kind of resource is most often dependent upon an individual seeking the resources and support they need. There are times when our Chaplains have been so overwhelmed by a personal crisis, a crisis of ministry, or some other disaster that they did not know where to begin. A call to the office and a simple conversation was all it took to get their needs met.
After networking, our second most important resource is our training. The Federation has set the standard for Fire Service Chaplaincy worldwide. Our training is accepted in many disciplines organizations worldwide. The FFC has developed a manual which is the major resource for other articles and books written about Fire Service Chaplaincy. Our Executive Director and the Board are consistently ahead of the training needs of our Chaplains. The development of classes and meeting the standards of academic excellence comes with a price. Your dues helps to fund this. Your dues has helped the FFC Manual to be translated in Spanish and is helping in the translation into other languages. Your dues also supplement the money necessary to have our Annual Conference. The bulk of the Annual Conference is paid for by registration and donations, but money from your dues has kept the cost down.
When you join as a new member $25.00 of your $125.00, is used to begin a file and help you track your Chaplaincy training. We ask that you send in a registration form to our Institutes so that we know who would like our help tracking their training. As we help you track your training you are also working toward a recognition of your advanced studies. Your experience and meeting the Advanced Studies requirement puts you in a position to request to become an FFC Instructor.
The reputation of the FFC has allowed us to partner with other organizations to promote Fire Chaplaincy. Our reputation gives us credibility in the Fire Service. That is why we have representation in the IAFF, IAFC, NVFC, etc. We helped the formation of the Fellowship of Christian Firefighters International as well.
The bulk of your dues go to the “cost of doing business”. We have some salaries we pay each month. We also have the expense of the Annual Board Meeting in January. Once a year we pay for our Board to meet for 2-3 days for conducting business for our organization and for planning.
We buy office equipment and software, utilities, office supplies, postage, pay for our website, pay for accounting services, etc. We pay for advertising through brochures, displays at Fire Events such as FDIC (in Indianapolis), Firehouse World (San Diego), Baltimore Fire Expo, etc. To participate in these events there are some travel costs as well.
What does your dues do for you? It makes you a partner in ministry with the Federation of Fire Chaplains. Without your support we could not do what we are doing, to meet the spiritual needs of the Fire and Emergency Medical Services and their families throughout the world.