Today we accomplished one of those pesky little tasks at Pilgrim Center that needs to be completed once per year. State fire prevention code requires us to have our fire extinguishers inspected annually. Now we have over 30 extinguishers scattered across all our buildings and it can be a little bit of a chore to round all of those extinguishers up. We could require the company who services our extinguishers to go on a scavenger hunt and find all the places they are hanging but I am doubtful that would be successful, inevitably an extinguisher somewhere would be missed. As an alternative, we gather all the extinguishers to one central location on the day they are to be serviced and then we redistribute them once the work is completed. We maintain a list of where all of them are hanging and by using the list we can ensure that they all receive the service that is required.
Part of this process makes me a little bit uneasy as a former firefighter. Using this procedure, there is a short window of time when our buildings are sitting a little more vulnerable to fire. If a fire would occur during this time there would not be any extinguishers in the buildings. Now we only do this on days when we have no guests on site and it is only for a couple of hours, so the risk really seems to be minimal, but it does make us more vulnerable. I weigh this vulnerability against the probability of an extinguisher being missed on the annual service day if I asked the technician to find all the extinguishers on his own. With our method we ensure complete service without putting our buildings at significant risk. The end result is a safer, stronger system, but it does require a period of increased vulnerability in order to achieve the final goal.
I think in some ways our fire extinguisher process is analogous to what many groups and individuals experience while participating in faith enriching programs at our sites. When people are attempting to strengthen their faith there is often a period of time in which some of their beliefs and practices are more vulnerable. We hope that during this time we can create a safe environment in which this vulnerability can be worked through without anyone being harmed. When this occurs, the end results are people with a stronger, more solid belief system than they possessed initially.
At the end of the day, whether we are servicing our fire extinguishers or developing faith enriching programming, our goal is to provide a safe space for exploring and strengthening your faith.
~ Rev. Nathan Athorp