Fire Chaplain's Faith Leads Him to Serve
The fire dispatch radio is on in the background and a woman’s voice at the other end provides the address of a man who needs medical attention. Fire Chaplain Rodney Appleby listens to the incoming call from the radio clipped to his van’s sun visor. It doesn’t sound like an emergency so he continues his drive to visit with the A-shift crew at Fire Station No. 11 on Airline Road.
Appleby is the Corpus Christi Fire Department’s first full-time chaplain. Up until four months ago, the position was volunteer based, but Appleby along with his supervisor saw the need for a full-time chaplain to devote days and some nights to providing each firefighter sufficient counseling and a permanent presence of a chaplain in the department.
“I didn’t want to only be a ceremonial chaplain,” Appleby said. “I wanted to be more involved by going to different scenes and where I was needed.” Appleby’s personal life and previous professional careers helped paved the road to where he is now.
When Appleby was 21 he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a military police officer.
“As a soldier we serve our country and as military police we serve the troops. When I left the military I still wanted to do that type of work,” he said. “I had always been real strong in my faith, and have always had a strong desire to help others.”
A few years after he left the military 9/11 occurred and Appleby felt a calling to do more.
“I remember where I was and what I was doing. It was overwhelming,” he said. “I felt like I could do more and I wanted to be at the forefront of it.”
It was September 2004 when he decided to apply for the Corpus Christi Fire Department. He served the Corpus Christi community as a firefighter for a decade until he began volunteering his time as
chaplain. Today, Appleby is at the forefront of the department, supporting the fire department “troops.”
He listens when they need to talk about a fatal vehicle wreck. He laughs with them as they tell stories from when they were cadets. And he prays over them as the alarm bell rings, calling them to a fire.
Appleby’s goal as fire chaplain is to be a staple in each firefighter’s life, to make sure they know he is a reliable support system.
“It’s taken a while to see the change and to understand that I’m here every day. I’m here because of you, I’m here for you,” he said.
Appleby has created a lengthy to-do list for himself in his new full-time role, but one of those items is coming to fruition in the beginning of the New Year. For more than a year, Appleby has worked on standard operating procedures for the chaplain position and the SOPs are set to be finalized within the next couple of years.
He also is working to increase awareness of programs including anger management, domestic violence, and substance abuse to help prevent issues that may affect firefighter’s home and work environments.
Firefighters’ lives are consumed with stress, and they often don’t realize it. So Appleby is on a mission to insure all firefighters get any assistance they seek.
For more information about the Fire Department’s programs or to speak with Fire Chaplain Rodney Appleby please contact him at 826-3900.