Yesterday started out like any other day would have and things were right on schedule as I had planned them. Fr. Greg and I met for breakfast and a podcast session and then I set about to take care of office work. About 5pm the fire radio went off about a house fire not far from the church. I have blogged before about being a fire chaplain and this is part of the job. The radio is on 24/7 and you actually get used to it. So I went to the front door of my house and yep there is was two streets away, and big house fire.

This is what I saw when I arrived. This photo comes courtesy of the Telegram and Gazette newspaper in Worcester.

Now the point of telling this story is simply this. Fire fighters risk their lives everyday. Human beings had to go in that house and put that fire out. These brave men and women do things that normal, and I use that term in a good way, people would not do. As people are running out, they are running in not knowing if they will come back out or not. They have to trust their training and trust each other. Fire fighters in this area have taken a hit in the last few weeks with the stories coming out of Boston and some other places about drugs and alcohol on the job. It is very easy for us to look at fire fighters and think all they do is sit around the fire house and sleep. Well look at that picture again and think about it. That is a three family house. If you look close on the porch of the second floor you see people, those are the men and women we think just sit around and do nothing. They train for this stuff everyday. Just like the police officer who rides around in his/her car during a shift, these are highly trained, and under paid, professionals.

Now I like sports. I like to watch sports. But when I see what these people get paid it makes me sick to think of them versus they guys in that picture. In this area fire fighters start at around $35,000 a year. Okay not a bad salary, but in my department we only have six full time the rest like me are call fire fighters who make maybe $2,500 a year doing this. They do hold jobs or go to school but you get the idea. One of the departments that responded yesterday is a volunteer department. That’s right, they run into that building for FREE!

Don’t get me wrong I think people should be able to make as much money as they can but, when we pay a pitcher $40 million a year and fire fighter $35,000 a year something is wrong. We pay all of our public servants, police, fire, teachers, emts’s, snow plow drivers, etc. way to little and we need to look at how we structure our budgets. No one wants to pay more tax but come on people!

Next time you drive by your local fire house remember that photo and say a prayer for the men and women who happen to be on shift that day. Remember their families who pray every time the bell rings until they hear from their loved ones that they are okay. Next time your making cookies or something make an extra batch and take it by the fire house they love it and will even let you sit in one of the fire trucks, by the way that is cool! Thank the men and women of the fire service for all that they do and for risking their loves to save your 42″ flat screen LCD TV that they can’t afford themselves.

Okay, rant over.


  1. Amen! Amen! Amen!

    Can you hear me yelling that all the way from southeastern PA? I couldn’t agree with you more Father Peter.

    I was driving to the store not too long ago and the road was closed due to an apartment fire. It was at the tail end. The fire was out, but there was smoke coming out of a couple roof vents. And who was standing right near that…? The firemen. My immediate thought was, “Lord have mercy! What if the roof caves in?!” I pulled over to the side and said a quick prayer for them.

    No rant. Just fact.

  2. Amen, Fr Peter.

    I also have the greatest admiration for the brave men and women who willingly put their lives in danger for the rest of us.

    I always pray for all of the emergency services whenever they drive past me.

  3. Which rant would that be???

    There are three generations of firefighters in my husband’s family, and three generations of cops in mine. I’m still wondering which part of your post was a rant.

    Oh, and $35,000 starting salary for a firefighter is *horrible.*

  4. i live in a town where we have several volunteer fire deptments these people make no money, hold full time jobs and are always on call. anne

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