No one knows the abject fear of running into a burning building. Unless he has done it.
No one feels the anguish of a mother who sees her baby daughter trapped behind a burning door. Unless she has seen it herself.
No one can explain the senseless loss of life that results from just one careless moment. There is no explanation.
No one knows the agony of a wife and mother who gets the telephone call late into the night that her husband and father to her children will never come home again. No one.
The Fireman’s Prayer was written under these circumstances.
Tradition has it that this prayer was a personal, agonized outpouring from a young fireman who had himself survived the flames, but had been powerless to save three helpless children from the awful death that engulfed them in smoke and flame, unable to escape an apartment fire. As he and his companions fell back in defeat and despair, the children succumbed: the windows had been fitted by the landlord with steel security bars. The firemen were unable to free the trapped children.
In shock, anguish, and spiritual stupor, the fireman, A.W. “Smokey” Linn, penned this personal prayer, a plea to the Heavens to somehow make this moment right. And if not right, understandable. And if not understandable, bearable.
The Fireman’s Prayer is a prayer to unite communities, express love and devotion to family and friends, and to plead for the value of a soul before God Almighty. It is a Sacrament.
When I am called to duty, God,
Whenever flames may rage,
Give me the strength to save a life
Whatever be its age.
Help me to embrace a little child
Before it’s too late,
Or some older person
From the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert
And hear the weakest shout,
And quickly and efficiently
To put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling
And give the best in me,
To guard my neighbor
And protect his property.
And, if according to Your Will,
I have to lose my life,
Please bless with your protecting hand
My children and my wife.