“Our family would be very pleased if you shared this with others the history and inspiration about the Fireman’s Prayer. My Grandfather retired from Wichita F.D. in 1975. After traveling the country, he died March 2004. These days “Fireman’s Prayer” is just thought of as a poem, nothing more. I simply stated it was one man’s actual prayer to his God about his family as he reflected on the call he’d responded to one night. One can’t help but think, “What if that were my children in there?’ It was his gut reaction that was the inspiration for his written prayer.”
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. When I was about four, I thought my grandfather was born a fireman, lived at the station, and occasionally would visit us at grandmother’s house.
I learned a few things on my visits to the station, one was that if you walk in front of a truck being cleaned, someone will inevitably hit the siren button (just to see how high you’ll jump). My grandfather became one of the first Red Cross instructors in Wichita to teach and certify people for C.P.R. and first aid. I was the only eight-year-old in my school that was certified in both, whether I wanted to be or not. I’ve learned a lot about my grandfather since he left us two years ago. My grandmother told me many stories Grampa never told anyone, such as his time in the Coast Guard during WW II on a ship in the North Atlantic that was hit by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine. He was one of the few survivors. But most stories were about what had happened on the job.
After each shift, he would come home and tell his family about the runs he’d been on. Some were more difficult than others. A.W. “Smokey” Linn wrote “A Fireman’s Prayer” after he’d been at a call involving children trapped in a burning apartment building. The firefighters could see the children in the windows but could not rescue them due to the iron bars that the apartment owner had installed. All they could do was try to contain the fire. About one in the morning, Smokey found himself sitting at the station’s kitchen table putting into words the emotions inside of him from that evening.The following words are one man’s prayer (a man who was more than a fireman) to his Lord and Savior. He was a husband, father, grandfather, and a son who knew how precious and short life can be.