Fire Prevention for the Home Front?


By Pastor Gary Cortese, Chaplain – Byron Fire District

 Fire Prevention Week is in October each year. I like that word, “prevention.” Most of us can agree that prevention is better than cure regardless of the subject. For example, it’s better to prevent the flu than recover from it.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The fire began on October 8 but did most of its damage the following day. However, this historic fire wasn’t the biggest and most destructive that occurred during the same time. The Peshtigo, (Wisconsin) Fire also happened on October 8, 1871 and ravaged Northeast Wisconsin. Sixteen towns were burned to the ground, more than eleven hundred souls perished and some 1.2 million acres were destroyed.

Survivors from the Chicago and Peshtigo fires never forgot. Consequently, these fires changed the way firefighters and public officials thought about fire safety. Why does it take tragedy to inspire real change? Unfortunately, that’s just human nature.

Fire Departments all across our nation will be “preaching” fire safety, awareness and prevention. But just like any good sermon there is a responsibility that shifts from the “preacher” to the hearer. The message won’t benefit you if you don’t mix corresponding action with what you hear. In other words, you can’t just hear only but you must do what you hear. Fire safety is everyone’s business.

Now, let me shift to emotional “fires.” Prevention is better than cure. Better to prevent marital problems than try to recover from them. Better to prevent love loss than try to get it back. Here’s two pieces of practical wisdom to help in the prevention of problems in your life later.

First, for those who think the grass is greener on the other side, you should remember that it still has to be mowed, fertilized and maintained. And, second, for people who spend much time away from home and family, you need to know that absence does not make the heart grow fonder.

 In all our technology we’ve yet to invent a substitute for time. You need to spend time together – and living together under the same roof doesn’t count! What your spouse needs is your time. What your children need is your time. And just what is it that we have so little left to give at the end of the day? Time.

 Now here’s some prevention for you to consider: if you’re spending all of your time away from your loved ones, eventually they are simply going to learn how to live without you because you aren’t really a part of their daily lives. Is it any wonder why so many couples seem distant and feel disconnected? Of course this leads to seeking greener pastures elsewhere – thinking that’s where the solution must be. But eventually the cycle begins all over again. Some small adjustments now can help spare you big heartache later.

Here’s a little additional insight that might help: men are typically “conquest - oriented.” In other words, men find something, conquer it – or achieve success at it, and then move on to the next conquest…a job; a specific project; an idea; even a marriage or family. That’s why it’s easy for a man to go after what he wants, and then once he gets it, he can become bored very easily and, subsequently, he must keep “conquering” to validate his life. You can easily see why we have so many family related problems in our world. Men find their validation in position and possessions. On the other hand women, generally, do not.

Families begin to feel like they don’t really matter anymore. Valuable time and attention that was once spent on them is now focused elsewhere (because you don’t have to conquer the same thing over again – you exhaust your energy and resources on another “project.”) So, it’s vital that wives and children be reminded that they are loved and important.

Men have the responsibility placed upon their shoulders to set the pace for their families; to establish direction for their family, and are ultimately held accountable for what happens in that family. That’s what it means to be the “head” of the house. Not that you are, better than, or superior to, but responsible for.

I realize I’m placing a lot of emphasis on the male, or husband/father figure. This is traditional thinking, and what some consider, conservative. But I still believe in traditional values for the family unit.

For those who find themselves in a different situation…well, that’s another topic for another newsletter from your Friendly, Neighborhood Chaplain.

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