People often ask what the One Key Ingredient is for fire company success. Can you guess?
The One Key Ingredient for success is BROTHERHOOD!
Benjamin Franklin started the first volunteer fire company out of brotherhood.
The year-end holidays always fill us with a feeling of “good will” and “brotherhood” towards our fellow man. Firefighters decorate the firehouse, help the needy, run Santa Claus routes, and hold parties. Camaraderie runs high and it’s great to be alive!
Brotherhood is an extremely powerful force. It motivates people and improves everything. Many of us were attracted to this great profession because of the brotherhood!
Brotherhood was in my father’s firehouse of yesterday:
I remember my father leading me by the hand to visit his firehouse. The big red machines were fun to play around, but the best times were sitting with the “guys”. The fraternity was strong. If you needed help, it was only a request away. When a burglar tried to break into our home one meeting night, a panicked phone call from my mother brought the whole fire company to scour the neighborhood.
I watched in awe as brotherhood would simplify firehouse tasks with large membership turnouts. Not to mention what a great firefighting team brotherhood produced. They believed that together they were invincible; they worked hard to make up for each other’s weaknesses. Everyone got their turn to wear the officer’s helmet and was supported to ensure success.
Brotherhood is in my firehouse of today:
Putting your lives on the line together fighting fires requires brotherhood. As rookies, we vowed to always be there for each other. It was a blood oath! Little did we know then how strongly that vow would motivate our behavior.
That brotherhood pact would never again allow us to ignore a 3 a.m. fire alarm. The guilt of knowing you might not be there when your brothers needed you most would not allow it. Never again would any of us perform a task on the fire scene or in the firehouse alone. Never again would we think of ourselves first. Never again would we complain about each other. Brotherhood had permanently changed us for a higher good!
Brotherhood is the “heart and soul” of the fire company. It is the best measure of a company’s vitality. Brotherhood makes deposits into our emotional bank accounts so that when there is that one big withdrawal it can be absorbed.
One of my firefighter role models growing up was also the town barber. His name was Alfred Petretti. Who would know better about brotherhood than a barber who doled it out with every haircut? He was the epitome of brotherhood!
As an ex-chief and life member, he became very disturbed at the downward direction in the fire company camaraderie at the time. So disturbed was he, that he sat down and wrote a Firemen’s Meeting Prayer to fix it. He presented the prayer to the company and asked for it to be read at the end of every fire company meeting by the Secretary.
FIREMEN’S MEETING PRAYER
By Alfred Petretti
Dear Lord, we offer thee our
prayers for your guidance at
our meetings and to make us
ever mindful to remember we
are all brother firemen,
and to respect each other as
such. Dear Lord, may we ask
for a safe journey home, and
the readiness for the answering
of all alarms…. Amen
Reluctantly, the company tried it. Over time it changed everything. Whenever you ask for God’s help – it works. Hearing it at every meeting is a constant reminder to renew your brotherhood vows. It is infectious! It began a great tradition at Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1 of Little Ferry, NJ.
Join in this great brotherhood legacy and tradition by adding this prayer to the close of your fire company meetings!
Renew your brotherhood vows! Reach out to your comrades everyday. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. Offer a helping hand and a smile. Turn the other cheek instead of lashing out. Brotherhood is infectious! The more you give, the more you will receive.
Roger Busico is a 31-year fire service veteran. You can reach Roger at Roger.Busico@1stresponder.net.