I was reminded by a fellow Chaplain that I agreed to write an article for “Size-Up”. My usual habit for something like this is to find a title and then work on the message. As I was getting dressed for worship I stopped to look in the mirror to see if I was wrinkle free and then it hit me, my crazy title. I pray that my thoughts in this article will inspire you to not only look but think about being wrinkle free. So let’s see what this means for us.


As a Chaplain I would be remiss if I did not suggest that we begin each day with a conversation with the creator who guides us and keeps us safe as we answer the calls for help whatever they might be. By doing this we clear our hearts and minds so we are clearly ready to meet the day ahead and in the eyes of our creator we are, you guessed it, wrinkle free. However, it does not stop there.


The demands and requirements of doing our jobs requires hard work and training so that we are ready to respond to whatever the call might be. We do this in many different ways depending upon the assignment given to us. Some must lead, others must follow and we need to be consistent as we train over and over again so we can respond to our task instantly. In most departments we may even be given special assignments or develop special skills to provide the expertise to get the job done quickly and safely. We must be prepared to work as a well-coached team when called to duty. You might even say we must be wrinkle free.


In our business we depend greatly upon specialized equipment not only to help us do our jobs but to do it safely with greater speed, less effort and greater efficiency. This requires us to train on and maintain this equipment on a daily basis. It teaches us that after every call we must be sure the equipment is ready for the next call and or the next person required to use it. You guessed it, it must be wrinkle free.


How about ourselves, we must take every opportunity to protect ourselves against the elements and dangers we face everywhere, while serving our communities. The first requirement is to be alert and ready for the call in the nourishment and care of our bodies so that will be physically and mentally at the top of our game. Next we must be sure our PPE is ready and up to snuff. Do we follow the instructions and guide lines given to us or are we careless and sloppy in the care of our gear? We are constantly reminded to protect ourselves against the toxins and elements we are exposed to at each call. We remember well all the elements that effected those at 9/11 and the untimely deaths of so many who were there to do their jobs or just to help. The latest words: change out your hoods, wash your gear, try not to unnecessarily contaminate your equipment or vehicles. After any exposure wash and shower to remove any contamination to yourself, protect your family. Once again, be ready for the next call or the next day, be wrinkle free.


We can be mindful of the training and preparations for doing our job, we can think about the equipment and the need for constant maintenance, we can protect ourselves with the proper care of our PPE, so we are ready to serve. But how about our personal lives. Do we take our work and its problems home with us? Are our minds clear and ready to meet our family who are waiting to greet us at the end of a long shift or are we bundled up in the actions and reactions of our day? Tough questions but so important for us to have a handle on. If we have a distraction or a problem in our way, are we willing to seek the help needed to free us from that burden?


We, in the Chaplains corps, stand by ready to help you in any way that we can. We are always ready to listen! We do not have all the answers but are willing to make suggestions and/or direct you to the right person to help you define and resolve your situation. We strive to be sure that when you arrive home you and your family will enjoy and cherish the time you have together. You have accepted “the call to serve” and you and your family can stand proud of what you do. We truly believe that whatever your spiritual faith is, it is so important to make it a priority in your lives. Knowing that our divine creator is watching over us, caring for us and keeping us safe each day is the tool by which we become - “Wrinkle Free”! It is my prayer that your will stop, look in that mirror and proclaim, “I am Wrinkle Free.” God bless you and your family.


BIO: Ken Palmer is a Past Chief Chaplain of NYSAFChaplains, Inc. (2012-14). He currently serves as Deputy Chief Chaplain of the Mohawk Fire Department, he is a Past Chief and has served 59 years. He is a Certified Fire Instructor and for 32 years was Training Officer for his department. He has been a Chaplain for 30 years and serves as Chaplain of Newport Fire Company as well. He and his wife Sharon reside in Mohawk, NY.