New chaplain fills long-vacant position in fire department

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published December 18, 2013

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — It has been more than a decade since the Clinton Township Fire Department has had a fire chaplain.

Adam Simon broke that streak.

A Clinton Township firefighter for more than eight years, Simon was officially instituted as the new fire chaplain at the Dec. 2 township board meeting. He applied in mid-September for a chance to become chaplain, a position that was supported by his fire chief, Jack Shea, in October.

Simon, who also possesses a Bachelor of Science in religion and a Master of Arts in theological studies, was inundated with the idea of being that special resource for the department. When Simon initially inquired about the vacancy, Shea told him to do some research about what it entails.

He thought it was the perfect complimentary addition to the rest of his duties.

“It’s a tradition that is older than the fire department itself,” Simon said. “It’s something about spiritual growth. With our department or any department, the main thing I want anyone to know is that this chaplaincy position is for when, and if, they want or need to make ‘that call’ and don’t know who to call.”

Simon serves both the firefighters he works with, as well as members of the community. In addition to understanding the culture and operations within the fire department, there is an element of pastoral care and emergency grief support and crisis care. Line-of-duty death notifications, birth announcements and general support of firefighters’ families are also part of the job description.

And even though the position is unpaid, the element of helping someone else was enough to inspire Simon.

“Being part of the department is huge because it’s guys I see every day,” Simon said. “Seeing things they see and feeling the same emotions they feel.

“We’re guys. (We) don’t open or talk about stuff most of the time. It doesn’t even have to be political or religious. It’s just another outlet.”

When Simon expressed an interest in the position, he wrote a passionate application letter that described his beliefs and determination to help others in a worthwhile manner.

Simon doesn’t see the position as anything radically different than what he already does, which is to be the proverbial open book toward his fellow firefighters and his family. He understands he won’t be perfect, but he doesn’t intend to be.

“I feel great that there’s a void that’s being filled, and it’s a huge step moving forward,” Simon said. “We make sure that all of us are trained well, that we take care of each other, (are) physically able to do the job, and this is just another way of making sure the spiritual side is covered.

“It’s something very close to me, and it’s what I want to do with my life: be there when guys need it. Nothing’s changed, and I’m going to do the same things I’ve done since I was hired in this department.”