We are so grateful to welcome Andrew Starnes as a guest blogger to the 24-7 COMMITMENT team. There are few other bloggers in the fire service that have shown his commitment to the cause of marriage, family and community – bringing back the brotherhood as everyone knows and talks about. Andrew has written much about this topic over at his Facebook page – Bringing Back Brotherhood. Head on over there and give him a like. And share this post with the ones you love. ~ Lori @lorim
The fire service is an occupation like none other. It is one of brotherhood, sacrifice, and courage. It is a second family that we are grafted into the day we become a firefighter. As a firefighter we work many hours acquiring our necessary certifications, degrees, and work hard to maintain a level of combat readiness mentally and physically. A firefighter who is truly passionate about their calling possesses the ability to influence, change, and positively impact other lives in profound ways.
But then there is the dark side of our ambition that is not often talked about.
As we progress through our career we begin to work harder at making a difference and our efforts begin to pay off. We have become well-respected, teach/train/mentor others, and we are highly sought after for our expertise. The trouble lies in the earlier statement: The fire department is our SECOND family. Approximately 75% (9 out of 12) of firefighters will suffer a divorce. Many of us came into the fire service with a loving family who have supported us, encouraged us, and watched after our children while we worked, went to school, or while we were “improving the fire service”.
So why is it that we as firefighters, who took an oath to lay down our lives for the public if necessary, have forgotten about our families at home?Are not our spouse and children our greatest investment? Aren’t they our first “crew”? Are they not the reason “everyone goes home”? As scripture states perhaps we “have forgotten your first love”. We spend thousands of hours perfecting our craft, becoming certified, and working to be the best that we can be. How many hours are we dedicating to learning to be a good husband or wife and a good father or mother? How much time are we spending with our family where are mind is truly on them? Is our mind elsewhere?
We are taught that if we are distracted we can make mistakes on the fire-ground. We preach situational awareness, taking pride in what we do, and not becoming complacent. Why is it that we are not practicing what we preach at home? The statistical data proves that we are at a greater risk for heart attack, cancer, and several other occupationally related illnesses. And that data shows that we are at a much greater risk of divorce than anyone else. So why are we putting the cart before the horse?
My friends, the answer lies in our priorities and core values.
Our core values determine who we are. Someone may be a good firefighter but their core values ultimately define them. These values are: integrity, compassion, courage, honor, honesty, etc. These core values were (hopefully) instilled in you by your family from God. If you believe in God, as I do, then your priorities are to be: God, family, then your fire department family, and others. We are to work so that we may live. We should not “live to work”. If our priorities are out of order we will one day find ourselves staring at retirement papers wondering if we will be able to live without this job. When we leave this earth we leave behind two things: our word and our children. They are our greatest achievement. They are our greatest mission.
Our family is the reason we should be a great firefighter. We should not work so hard that we forget about the ones who are ‘holding the line’ at home. Being a firefighter means you are never off duty. Our drive to serve our fellow man goes deeper than any patch, badge, or title that man can bestow upon us. The commitment to our calling as a firefighter should be based on the depth of your great love for our family at home and our desire to go home safely to them.
In closing, remember we are blessed with two families. Keep “our home” family first and our fire department family second and our houses will always remain in order. Let’s practice what we preach at home and at work.
“Just as firefighters are willing to rescue someone from a burning building,
Christian firefighters must be willing to come to the aid of hurting firefighters
before their marriages end in divorce.” -Dr. James Dobson
Let’s all respond to the call of our families first and be sure that when we go home they will be there waiting for us with open arms.
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries