There is a simple truth in the fire service that when the Police knock at the front door, the occupants run out the back door. When the Fire Department knocks at the door, the occupants welcome them with open arms. When the Chaplain knocks at the door, no matter the hour, the occupants run and hide in the closet, not wanting to hear the news.
West Thurston Regional Fire Authority is fortunate to have our own Fire Chaplain who performs a variety of services. In addition to being an EMT, standing ready to serve as a resource for the Fire Chiefs by assisting at emergency scenes, he also provides assistance to victims of crisis situations, makes death notifications and serves as part of the Critical Incident Debriefing Team. Additionally, he provides for the spiritual needs of, and counseling for, department members and their families, and visits sick and injured department personnel at home or in the hospital. In the event of the serious injury or even the death of a department member or their family member he assists in coordinating and providing family services.
Chaplain Thom Jenrette and back-up Chaplains perform a wide variety of duties outside of the department including; offering prayers at special occasions such as recruit graduations, award and ground breaking ceremonies for new department buildings; performing Sunday services at the West Region EMS conference; serving on the pastoral staff at Capitol Medical Center, visiting the sick and terminally ill, and on-call and ready at a moment’s notice should a patient’s family have a need. Additionally our senior Chaplain serves as substitute pastor for a local Church in Littlerock. Both Chaplains serve as liaisons with other clergy in the community.
What started as a simple idea six years ago is now a whole program involving several people. Thanks to our Fire Commissioners, Chiefs and the tireless efforts of a handful of men and women, the Chaplain service has turned into the Fire Chaplains of Thurston County, bringing chaplains from several fire departments together to serve their own departments as the primary Chaplain, then serve each other departments as the backup Chaplain. The Fire Chaplains of Thurston County have even extended their network into some of the neighboring counties should we have a need for their resources.
Chaplain Thom Jenrette’s favorite part of being a Chaplain has been the joining of hands of our engaged couples in marriage and the dedication and baptism of their children.