The Story Behind the ‘Firefighter’s Prayer’

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Many know the “Firefighter’s Prayer,” but do you know who wrote it and what they were thinking of at the time it was written?

Firefighter’s Prayer

“When I am called to duty, God whenever flames may rage,
Give me the strength to save some 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.”

Today the prayer above is often thought of as simply a poem originally written by Alvin William “Smokey” Linn. According to his granddaughter, Penny McGlachlin, it is so much more. Her grandfather, Smokey Linn, joined the Wichita, Kansas Fire Department in 1947 after returning from World War II. He retired in 1975 and became president of the local chapter of the Good Sam Camping Club. Linn passed away March 31, 2004, of complications following surgery.

Firefighter in SCBA
Photo: Pixabay/skeeze

The end of Linn’s prayer can be found engraved on a memorial in front of the new fire station in Brunswick, Maine.

According to Woodstock Fire, the following was taken from a speech given by Penny McGlachlin at the dedication of the Cook’s Corner Fire Station in Brunswick, Maine on July 15th, 2006.

“Alvin William Linn earned the name “Smokey” when he was 15 by running into his grandfather’s burning barn and driving out his Model T truck. He and the truck made it out in one piece, but the seat of his pants were smoking. This must have been a sign of things to come, because it wasn’t the last time he would charge into a burning building.

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