Tifton-Tift Co firefighters cope with tragedy

Tifton-Tift Co firefighters cope with tragedy
Craig Nalls, Chaplain
Craig Nalls, Chaplain

TIFTON, GA (WALB) - Tifton-Tift County Fire Chief Mike Coleman has been in fire service since 2000 and Chief since 2010.

But even with 15 years experience, he said fatal fires like the one his team faced Friday night, that left two twelve year-olds dead, are still tough to handle.

"Coping becomes easier, maybe," Coleman said. "But the tragedy and the dealing with it. It never gets easier."

Learning to cope with the pressure is part of the training firefighters go through. But Coleman said it's not until a firefighter has to deal with it firsthand that it really hits home.

"We have a very flexible policy regarding that. But the help is there. It can be as informal as a discussion among the men. It can be a little more formal if someone, themselves, chooses to go that route."

One of the formal outlets for firefighters is counseling with the department chaplain.

"It can affect their personal lives and their work also, as they see crisis and fatalities and things like that in their work," Fire Department Chaplain Craig Nalls said.

Nalls gets to know the officers, talks with them and also believes in what he calls, "ministry by presence."

"It's just being there," Nalls said. "Maybe not saying anything. Not doing anything, formally. It's just being present."

And just being there is also a part of what helps firefighters get through the tough and good days alike.

"If there's any one thing you could say that helps more than any other thing, I think it would be the comradery," Coleman said. "We're all in this together. A brotherhood if you will. Which is, in fact, what the brotherhood means."

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