Role of a Fire Chaplain

Fire Chaplains provide faith based aid, comfort, counsel and help to our members of the Fire Department, both civilian and sworn, and their families.

Fire Chaplains are members of the clergy from all faith traditions who are respectful of and committed to harmonious and cooperative co-existence with other religious beliefs without being required to compromise their own beliefs or convictions.

Fire Chaplains exhibit their faith through service and not by proselytizing or attempting to force beliefs onto those being served.  Instead, Fire Chaplains provide a safe, welcoming and comforting presence to our members and their families. 

Fire Chaplains help our members and their families when they are facing some type of tragedy or difficulty in their lives. Fire Chaplains assist them in identifying and drawing upon a core of support (co-workers, family, friends, clergy, and social services) in order to carry them through the days and months following the immediate crisis.  Clergy often refer to this type of activity as “pastoral care” or “compassionate ministry.”

Fire Chaplains visit the sick, serve as counselors, practice and exhibit ethical behavior.

Fire Chaplains are counselors who may be approached in confidence and must hold information provided to them in confidence.  The only exceptions involve information related to the abuse of children or the elderly and when information is disclosed that suggests intent to immediately harm self or others.

All Fire Chaplains are called upon to be flexible, to have a good sense of humor and to extend compassion and understanding to those under the influence of their ministry.

A Chaplain in the Austin Fire Department does not report to the Fire Chief, an Assistant Chief, or any Chief Officer.  A Chaplain is able to befriend and relate to all members of the department, both sworn and civilian, and their families.

One of the Chaplains will be on-call at all times; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round.  Should any firefighter or employee feel the need for a chaplain, the Communications Supervisor will assist them by making contact with the on-call Chaplain.

Fire Chaplains are available to counsel firefighters following critical incidents, such as fire fatalities. The on-call Chaplain will be available on the scene and in the days following the incident if a firefighter desires to talk with him/her.

Fire Chaplains are available to conduct weddings, baptisms, funerals, and other ceremonies.  Chaplains may co-officiate with a firefighter’s or employee’s pastor, or if the firefighter or employee does not have a pastor or spiritual leader and desires the Chaplain to conduct the service, the Chaplain will do so.  Fire Chaplains are ready to visit the firefighter, employee, and/or members of their family who are hospitalized for whatever reason.  Such visits are arranged by personally contacting the individual Chaplain.

Fire Chaplains are non-denominational. This means they relate to people with varying faith traditions, or no faith, and provide services as desired. Chaplains are generally referred to with the title “Chaplain”, even though they might be a rabbi, priest, pastor, deacon, minister or evangelist.

Fire Chaplains are volunteers. They give of their time because they feel called by God to do so.

For further information, contact the AFD Wellness Office (512) 974-0200.