When I’m called to duty, God, wherever flames may rage.
Give me strength to save a life whatever be its age.
Help me to embrace a little child before it is too late
Or save an older person from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert to hear the weakest shout
And quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me.
To guard my every neighbor and protect their property.
And if according to Your will I have to lose my life,
Please bless with Your protecting hand my children and my wife.
© 1996 by Charlie Ball performed by Plainfolk
Chorus: Lay me down beside cool water
And lay to rest my body sore
Send the word out to my brothers
The fire is down, let it burn no more
1) Let me be ready Lord when the call comes in
When the sirens wail and the engines strain
When the smoke is thick and the air is thin
When innocent lives, in the balance hang
2) I’ve trained hard Lord and I’ve learned well
That I’m just one part of a human chain
Though it’s been forged in the fires of hell
Still I’ve known fear Lord, and I’ve prayed for rain
3) If my brother goes down Lord, let me be near
Won’t you let me have what the flames demand
Won’t you give him voice, O Lord, and let me hear
And give me the reach Lord, for his outstretched hand
4) Let me be ready Lord if it comes my turn
Won’t you let me be strong, let me not complain
Won’t you let me go in and with a child return
Take me young Lord, but not in vain
I Wish I Could
I wish you could see the sadness of a business man as his livelihood goes up in flames or that family returning home, only to find their house and belongings damaged or destroyed.
I which you could know what it is to search a burning bedroom for trapped children, flames rolling above your head, your palms and knees burning as you crawl, the floor sagging under your weight as the kitchen beneath you burns.
I wish you could comprehend a wife’s horror at 3 A.M. as I check her husband of forty years for pulse and find none. I start CRP anyway hoping against hope to bring him back, knowing intuitively it is too late. But wanting his wife and family to know everything possible was done.
I wish you could know the unique smell of burning insulation, the taste of soot-filled mucus, the feeling of intense heat through your bunker gear, the sound of flames crackling, and eeriness of being able to see absolutely nothing in dense smoke—“sensations that I have become too familiar with.”
I wish you could read my mind as I respond to a building fire, “Is this a false alarm or a working, breathing fire? How is the building constructed? What hazards await me? Is anyone trapped?” Or to an EMS call, “What is wrong with the patient? Is it minor or life threatening? Is the caller really in distress or is he waiting for us with knife or gun?
I wish you could be in the emergency room as the doctor pronounces dead the beautiful little five-year old girl that I have been trying to save during the past twenty-five minutes, who will never go on their first date or say the words, “I love you Mommy!” again.
I wish you could realize the physical, emotional, and mental drain of missed meals, lost sleep and forgone social activities, in addition to all the tragedy my eyes have viewed.
I wish you could know the brotherhood we develop among our group, or the self-satisfaction of helping save a life or saving someone’s cherished possessions from a fire. Or of just being there in times of crisis, or of creating order from total CHAOS.
I wish you could understand what it feels like to have a little boy tugging on your arm and asking, “Is my mommy o.k.?” Not even being able to look into his eyes without tears falling from your own and not knowing what to say. Or to have to hold back a long-time friend who watches his buddy being bagged as they take him away in the ambulance. knowing all along he did not have his seat belt on—sensations that I have become all too familiar with.
Unless you have lived this kind of life, you will never truly understand or appreciate who I am, what we are, or what our job really means to us.
In the ditch is a cross,
At the intersection there is a wreath.
Each is a reminder of your loss,
To show the passing world there was an untimely death.
When I see this reminder,
It lets me know I have failed.
The tragedy that took place makes me relive the event,
My stomach turns and my face begins to pale.
What could I have done differently to change this outcome.
They are symbols that helps your heart be at peace,
And I ask was it God’s will, or was there more we could have done.
Next time you replace the faded flowers & broken stones,
Know the hurt you feel is shared, some with strangers some with loved ones.
For we cry inward for a life that slipped through our hands the outcome unknown.
You may have just one cross to maintain,
But we have many to remind us that in our district, in our care, we lost one more.
There is a fear that they will be forgotten.
The truth is they will never leave our thoughts.
The symbol you have placed before us,
Is it worth the pain it puts in both our hearts?
The pain is different, but it is there
It’s a reminder we all lost one that was in our care.
Why do we need to do that to ourselves? The true people that care the truth be told,
They will never be forgotten, with or without a cross on the road.