The firefighters in a department are the ones who are on the rig everyday, visible in the public eye, and getting all the “Thank You” cards delivered to the firehouse. Even though it may not happen as often as some would like, the firefighters are the ones who get the glory from the media and citizens of the community. It’s no secret that our profession or hobby can be physically demanding, dangerous, and even difficult at times. Something that we may not remind ourselves of often is that there are many individuals behind the scenes that make our jobs easier, enjoyable, and keep things going smoothly.
Women’s Auxiliary Program
Recently, one of the firefighter’s wives at my department had the idea of starting a Women’s Auxiliary Program for all of the wives and girlfriends of the firefighter’s at KFD. As most of us know, there are many programs like this all across the country, but until now…that was not a resource that our wives/significant others. She is hoping to use the program for the women to develop friendships with each other, as well as expand the program to deliver food/flowers if there is a death in a fire family.
In the fire service, we often speak of the “Brotherhood,” and let me clarify that the “Brotherhood” includes males and females throughout the fire service. It is not limited to firefighters with career departments, but extends to all members of the fire service who show the honor, respect, and trust to the other members. The launch of the Women’s Auxiliary will give the “better halves” of all of our firefighters to create that sense of “brotherhood” amongst themselves. They will have a network of individuals that are going through similar situations to rely on when times get tough. The same goes for females in the fire service that have supportive husbands, and significant others.
My good friend, Lori Mercer, out of Ohio operates a network for fire wives called: FirefighterWife.com. Her network includes wives all across the country, and she does an excellent job of creating different programs for them to help keep their marriage strong (among other things).
Her website just turned 2, and every fire wife needs to be sure they see what she has to offer. Firefighters: Be sure to let your wives know about the website. It can save relationships and marriages, and provide the support they need while we’re at the firehouse. Several times a day she makes posts with bible verses, quotes, and photos to remind them that she is going through similar situations. They have a discussion board for “MEMBERS ONLY” to pose questions and thoughts that cross their minds.
FirefighterWife.com also has an annual conference for couples to attend called “Flame Fest.” This is a great opportunity for couples to “Relax. Indulge. Reconnect.” The dates for the Flame Fest 2014 are July 10-12, and it will be held in Chicago, IL. Several great speakers and activities are planned, and our brother John Salka will even be there! Still not convinced? Click here to read the Top 10 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss Flame Fest 2014.
For as far back as veteran members of KFD can remember, there has been one lady to help them with every mistake on their paycheck, raises upon being promoted, and finding the answers to every question. This young lady recently retired from the Kingsport Fire Department after 40+ years of service. Jean Bates, “Chief” Bates, had been with the Kingsport Fire Department since 1972. Through the years, she transitioned from hand written records to the computers we use today. She knows the Department inside and out, and holds a very special place in all 115 of her “children’s” hearts.
In late 2013, the Department welcomed our current Executive Secretary, Mrs. Alison Shaffer. She transferred from the Finance Department, and definitely hit the ground running. She is full of energy, very reliable, and dedicated to her position. Ali is also a passionate person, not only interested in the duties of the Secretary, but also to those activities that the firefighters are involved in. She stays up-to-date on the incidents her co-workers respond to, and is always involved with Department functions. Ali has developed a new passion for the fire service that she didn’t even know existed. She’s responded to incidents, participated in training drills, and has even travelled with us!
I have the COOLEST job ever! I work with 115 of the most awesome firefighters who train hard and are true heroes! Plus, they let me play with their toys! -Alison Shaffer
These two ladies put a lot of sweat and tears into doing the 100+ things their job requires, but they also go above and beyond status quo. Although, typically behind the scenes, we need to remember the key role that they play. They are part of us, they are part of our Department, and we could never thank them enough. All of their hard work makes our jobs so much easier; these ladies truly are our heroes.
Barry Carr, Assistant Fire Marshal, holds the newly formed position; KFD Chaplain. Carr has been with the Department for a number of years, and has recently assumed the role of Chaplain. This is a resource available for members in need. Brother Carr has provided words of prayer at different functions held, and has also spent numerous hours with families during difficult times. He makes it known that he’s there for us. Carr always has an open ear for listening, a shoulder for crying on, and words of advice through Scripture.
I personally believe this is a great resource for FD’s to make available to their members. Some of these positions are often filled with area ministers that are available during times of need. Cpt. Wines of IronFiremen.com wrote about having his Chaplain bless his helmet prior to it being placed into service. Click here to read Cpt. Wine’s Article.
Your Department. Your Support Group.
Each of us have our friends, family, and coworkers that provide us with the support that we need. Every department has their own “Ali and Ms. Bates” to keep business running smooth. Even if your department doesn’t currently have a Women’s Auxiliary, there are resources such as FirefighterWife.com available. There are Chaplains available in every community, and it’s a great resource for your department. Our job is stressful enough, the shifts are long enough, and the calls are difficult enough, that we need others to lean on. Not only do we need those individuals, but we also NEED to be sure we remind them of how grateful we are for what they do.
Thank you all!