Since the beginning of the organized fire service, fire departments by tradition have had someone in the role of chaplain. In many departments, a local clergy person has been appointed chaplain to handle emergency situations within the department as well as fulfilling a traditional ceremonial role at fire department functions and conducting weddings and memorials for fire department family members.
The purpose of a Fire Chaplain is to be a ministry of presence to fire department personnel, their families and on the scene of an incident. A chaplain is trained to bring comfort and consolation to persons involved in critical incidents, natural catastrophes and/or incidents dealing with death.
A chaplain works with people facing a family crisis, on the job crisis, or during any critical incident. The chaplain does not replace a person’s pastor or spiritual leader. If the person has a spiritual leader or is in need of a professional counselor then a referral will be made.
Chaplain Jonathan Clemens
Jonathan Clemens also serves as a fire chaplain with South Bay Volunteer Fire Department. Jonathan has ministered in various Churches of Christ since 1991. He holds a Master of Divinity from Pepperdine University. He is a 1995 graduate of the Northwest Church Ministry Internship in Shoreline, Washington and a 2007 graduate of the Police and Fire Chaplains Training Academy offered in cooperation with the Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission. He is a member of the Federation of Fire Chaplains. In his other roles, Jonathan works as a physician assistant at Group Health Cooperative, teaches Emergency Medical Technician courses with Thurston County Medic One, and serves as a company officer at South Bay Volunteer Fire Department. Email Chaplain Clemens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chaplains have taken a pledge:
“I must be open to people of all faiths and help them use their faith resources in their time of crisis. I recognize that a personal crisis is often a turning point in someone’s life. It can become a time of faith renewal and recommitment. I want to be there to help them when this time comes.”
A chaplain must be available to help victims of tragedy as an initial response and in a limited follow-up capacity. Chaplains are on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for members, their families and victims.