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What is the Brotherhood Among Firefighters?

I have always had a feeling as though I know what the brotherhood is. There are many great firemen who exemplify the “Brotherhood” and many others who think it is merely wearing a shirt or putting a sticker on their car.

I have been accused of not knowing what the Brotherhood is by people who in my estimation do not have a clue. Sure, I am not perfect, but if you have to justify yourself as part of the “Brotherhood” you probably don’t quite know what it is or where to find it. This post is not my justification but merely my view of what it is to me.

What is the Brotherhood Among Firefighters?

To me it is many things, but in reality it is only one….

If you were to take a firefighter and strip them of their badge, remove their turnout gear, peel their skin back, and remove the organs, the brotherhood is that small fire that continues to burn inside of them.

That small fire cannot be extinguished, cannot be contained, and cannot be taken away. It is what makes you a firefighter and you must not for any reason let personal feelings hamper and decision to help another “Brother”.

I was talking to the guys at the station the other day and explained to them that there are guys who I could call at any hour and ask them, tell them, or demand of them anything and they would do it without asking any questions. That is the Brotherhood.

Sure, there are many others who would do things for me or my family if I worked along side of them, if they knew me better.

Some claim that their is a Brotherhood among paid guys and a different one among vollies. I think that firefighting has a brotherhood and that all else might bond you in a different/extra way.

Brotherhood is understanding that above all differences of opinion, feuds, hurt feelings, and just plain old not getting along you understand that you have a duty to all firefighters equally.

Brotherhood might have once been coined for men. However, this day in age it encompasses all sexes, creeds, and races.

This day in age we need the brotherhood more than anything.

We need to continue to light that fire in our new firefighters and make sure that the fire continues to burn in our veterans.

Look all around you. It doesn’t matter what department you are in, I am certain you can come up with examples of firefighters who just don’t get it. Don’t give up on them. Keep trying to show them the way.

If you have that fire burning inside of you, it is your duty to keep the Brotherhood alive.

What is the Brotherhood to you?

What examples do you have of how someone has shown you the Brotherhood Among Firefighters?

Comments - Add Yours

  • http://twitter.com/cfdwife Shari Simpson

    Another thing about the brotherhood is no matter how much you can't stand a guy (or girl) he is still your brother. Just like family. I have learned this many times over by seeing my own husband do things I wouldn't do for someone I didn't like. Yet, it isn't about liking…it's just what you said it's the flame inside that makes a special connection.

    - Shari
    http://twointwoout.blogspot.com/

  • http://hydrantgirl.blogspot.com/ hydrantgirl

    Knowing you can trust your life to them, and that they trust their life to you.

  • yvonnegriffin

    The “brotherhood” is the unbreakable bond between firefighters all around. I totally respect that. I am also glad that the men and women of LAFD treat me as one of theirs.. It is an honor to be part of their realm.

  • http://www.tigerschmittendorf.com Tiger Schmittendorf

    Rhett – This is a topic that is (as it should be to all firefighters) very near and dear to me. I've written several pieces on the subject and have shared similar sentiments. http://tigerschmittendorf.com/?feb_network_sear

    Brotherhood on the fireground is about trust. Brotherhood off the fireground is about trust, loyalty and respect for the common bond we share and the challenges we all face in fulfilling our obligations to the fire service.

    Here's my definition of brotherhood:

    “It doesn’t matter that we wear different patches on our left sleeve. What’s important is that we wear the same patch on our right sleeve. The red, white and blue one – the one with the stars and stripes on it.

    That’s what brings us together and keeps us together. No one can ever take that away from us.

    The fire service is what’s right about America.”
    - Tiger Schmittendorf – February 25, 2005

    Although we haven't met yet, thanks for being my brother.

  • stevealderton

    Hello, I am a 20 year career Captain in a East Coast Fire Department. I have always participated in the “brotherhood” of the fire department over the years by being there to help out other firefighters (the deck building parties, the rides to the airport, the middle of the night call for a ride home). I new of this “brotherhood” from these types of experiences and also from attending the memorial in NY after 9-11 for the 343 fallen brothers there.
    But last year, I truly experienced just how far reaching the FD Brotherhood goes. My daughter foolishly followed her heart out to the midwest with her boyfriend. This was against the advise of her mother and me, but we all know how that works. As we predicted, the a-hole boyfriend had persuaded her to move there in order to trap her and my grandson there. She ended up stuck because he filed court papers and the courts forced her to stay. She had no place to go to live. I was desperate and felt helpless to protect my daugher and grandson. I decided to test the legend of the brotherhood. I called blindly to firehouses in the area she was trapped. I needed to find someone I could trust to give me information about housing options and I needed it fast. What I ended up with wasn't just information, it was options and offers. I was not only humbled, but my wife and I were brought to tears. A Leiutenant contacted his daughter in the town my daughter was in, after just a short conversation with me, and the daughter and her husband opened there home up for my family to stay for a few months. They asked for nothing in return. And when that arrangement and offer ran its course, another firefighter I had met arranged for another place for my family to stay for another block of time. All of this because of a bond created by a badge we wear, similar helmets, and a unique habit if running into burning buildings. These people have never met me face to face. They have only spoken to me on the phone, yet they are my “Brothers”. Very similar to a “Band of Brothers”. Soldiers in a never ending war to save people from themselves. The average citizen will never understand this bond, this link, this proud duty that comes with being a firefighter. We do things to save strangers from their own mistakes, often times risking our own lives to save them…….. then we go home to our wives and children who know that they share us with our fire department family, and they don't mind because they understand why.

    Be safe out there, be good to your family- both of them,

    Captain Steve Alderton
    Montgomery County, MD

  • stevealderton

    Hello, I am a 20 year career Captain in a East Coast Fire Department. I have always participated in the “brotherhood” of the fire department over the years by being there to help out other firefighters (the deck building parties, the rides to the airport, the middle of the night call for a ride home). I new of this “brotherhood” from these types of experiences and also from attending the memorial in NY after 9-11 for the 343 fallen brothers there.
    But last year, I truly experienced just how far reaching the FD Brotherhood goes. My daughter foolishly followed her heart out to the midwest with her boyfriend. This was against the advise of her mother and me, but we all know how that works. As we predicted, the a-hole boyfriend had persuaded her to move there in order to trap her and my grandson there. She ended up stuck because he filed court papers and the courts forced her to stay. She had no place to go to live. I was desperate and felt helpless to protect my daugher and grandson. I decided to test the legend of the brotherhood. I called blindly to firehouses in the area she was trapped. I needed to find someone I could trust to give me information about housing options and I needed it fast. What I ended up with wasn't just information, it was options and offers. I was not only humbled, but my wife and I were brought to tears. A Leiutenant contacted his daughter in the town my daughter was in, after just a short conversation with me, and the daughter and her husband opened there home up for my family to stay for a few months. They asked for nothing in return. And when that arrangement and offer ran its course, another firefighter I had met arranged for another place for my family to stay for another block of time. All of this because of a bond created by a badge we wear, similar helmets, and a unique habit if running into burning buildings. These people have never met me face to face. They have only spoken to me on the phone, yet they are my “Brothers”. Very similar to a “Band of Brothers”. Soldiers in a never ending war to save people from themselves. The average citizen will never understand this bond, this link, this proud duty that comes with being a firefighter. We do things to save strangers from their own mistakes, often times risking our own lives to save them…….. then we go home to our wives and children who know that they share us with our fire department family, and they don't mind because they understand why.

    Be safe out there, be good to your family- both of them,

    Captain Steve Alderton
    Montgomery County, MD

    • Donna Helinski

      Steve, I wanted to tell you that I’m going to meet Saundra and Phil on Nov 12 at my brothers house in Rockville. I also want to give you my contact number 301-604-3507. I miss seeing ya on facebook-too busy to hang out there-will never forget how nice you’ve been to me-we are cousins and I think you are awesome-wish I had known you thru the years as I lived in Montgomery Co. during the 80’s. I would honored to meet you someday.

  • Bryaneastman2002

    the thing that get me is there will always be the brother hood but in time when people get mad at some one it seems they forget about the brother hood and start attacking each other it seem like every thing falls apart so what those of use who care need to do i try and remind every one is that we are still one family and try to keep it together so thing don’t fall apart

  • jeffrey ritchie

    Brotherhood is being able to trust your friend thats about to go in a blazing house with you and you trust they will make a smart decision and that if the walls fall in there not jumping out of the window with out yoU!

  • Austin Russell

    Brotherhood to me.. No matter how much you hate the guy next you.. when the bell goes off we are best friends.. Last summer i got into it with another member on the fire department because he was abusing his girlfriend who was pregnant. She was my girlfriends best friend. We got into it very heavily. A few weeks later our pager beeped and the tones dropped. and we went in like nothing was wrong and we were best friends because no matter what happens we are brothers of the fire dept. and dont want to lose a member. we lost a brother in 09.. he died from a massive heart attack unexpecditly and every since then no matter how much we fight we are there to back each other up (:

    Active Firefighter
    FVFD
    Austin

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  • Kimberly

    I was a firefighter for 7 yrs with one volunteer fire dept then remarried moved to another community and 10 yrs later joined another after 911. I became disabled and had to end something I enjoyed but my husband at the time continued until he commited a felony. I was alone needed help and only a few contacted me to see if I needed firewood. What my husband done was not my fault I done nothing wrong I couldn’t believe that they turned there back on me instead of asking how I was and if I needed anything. I needed them for support for strength and as I had no income I thought hopefully they wound have a fundrasier to help pay on my energybill or groceries as I knew we had done them for other people in the community in need. Even after I left the fire dept I still helped them out with BBQ and things like that. I thought of them as family and I would of helped them out if they had been in my situation. What my husband done shocked everyone but I was not the blame but I was treated as though I comited the crime. To firefighters who believe in the brotherhood who believe in God and who believe in helping families in need. Think about what they are going through and offer your support to them in anyway you can. I needed family, friends and God to get me through. Just to update I am doing fine now and my x-husband is still in jail now 16 months. I hope this reaches out to alot of firefighters so they realize the brotherhood is to be there for any family and to join together to help them anyway possible even if its just a hug that really helps too.
    To the SE Vol Fire Dept I send my thanks to Kimmy and Shrek for helping me to the others at the fire dept I hope you see this and think about others who may need your help except for when you get a 911 call. THIS IS WHAT BROTHERHOOD MEANS TO ME.

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