Fire Command: A poem dedicated to all first responders

‘This is the answer why we are God’s chosen’: A fire captain shares feelings about the job during a dark time of his life


Arthur W. Heredia was a 12-year veteran firefighter serving as a fire captain in East Chicago in 1986, when these words came to him during some dark times. He dedicates the message to all first responders.

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By Arthur W. Heredia   

Fire Command

As I lie here warm and dreaming, my sleep interrupted 
by a siren screaming, Fire Call! Fire Call!
The operator’s voice is speaking, on go the socks, 
pants, and shirt without even thinking

We pull up in front of a house that’s ablaze,
survivors are standing there half in a daze
I call to my men to drop the equipment they need,
an aggressive attack is what’s called for indeed

Hitting the ceiling with a blast of fine spray,
the book says to dissipate gasses that way
You can’t see two feet in front of your mask,
Dear Lord why must we have the impossible task

Making a retreat that’s been professionally tested,
all I can think of is getting my men rested
Standing on the sidewalk reminiscent of Nero,
a woman is calling all of my men heroes

The baby is safe in the arms of its mother,
tonight it was this way, tomorrow another
Looking around and seeing everyone’s frozen,
this is the answer why we are God’s chosen.

About the Author

Arthur W. Heredia served as a fire captain with the Chicago Fire Department before becoming a DEA special agent. He currently works as an environmental health and safety officer. He previously served as an adjunct professor of homeland security and public safety at Ivy Tech College of Indiana, an emergency management senior training specialist with the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA/Center for Domestic Preparedness. Heredia has master’s degrees in law enforcement administration and public safety administration, plus a bachelor’s degree in fire science administration and an associate degree in applied fire science.

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