Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue has more than just firefighters and EMTs on the front lines.  While every member of the combined system has an important role to play, there’s one role that may not be as visible on the fire ground but still provides a valuable service: the chaplain.  Several departments in Loudoun County have a chaplain, and some have more than one.  Currently at AVFRD, our chaplain is Brian Taff.

Brian has been a member of AVFRD since May 2017.  Originally from Georgia, he grew up on a black Angus cattle ranch just outside of Rome, GA.  Like most members of AVFRD, Brian has a day job in addition to volunteering his time with our Department.  Brian is a Federal Air Marshal and was transferred to Virginia in March of 2016 to run the Critical Incident Response Program which provided extensive training in crisis management. Brian has two daughters, one stepdaughter, and one stepson.  He currently lives in Ashburn with his future wife, Shelby.

While frequently found at station events, he also invites anyone who needs to or wants to talk to reach out to him by phone at +1-513-375-9424, or email at BTaff@avfrd.net.

Chaplains have been a part of the fabric of AVFRD for decades.  So what exactly does a chaplain do?

First and foremost, a chaplain is non-denominational. This means he or she relates to people with varying faith traditions, or no faith, and provides services as desired. The chaplain is generally referred to with the title “Chaplain”, even though they might be a rabbi, priest, pastor, deacon, minister or evangelist.

The chaplain, as with all chaplains in Loudoun County, is a volunteer. “They give their time because they feel called by God to do so,” Brian said, “and they’re available to counsel members and their families following critical incidents, such as fire fatalities.” He or she can be available on the scene and in the days following the incident if department personnel desire to talk with him or her.  Beyond system members, chaplains provide counseling and support to patients’ families immediately following critical incidents.  At least one chaplain is available all day every day in an emergency response role within Loudoun County.  Chaplains volunteer to cover 12-hour shifts and are dispatched to a variety of calls, such as cardiac arrests and dead-on-arrival (DOA) calls.

The chaplain is also available to conduct a variety of ceremonies. He or she may co-officiate with a member’s pastor, or if the member does not have a pastor or spiritual leader and desires the chaplain to conduct the service, the chaplain will do so.

Within AVFRD, the chaplain reports directly to the Chief of the Department.  Chaplains are available to any member of the System, whether they be volunteer, career, operational, administrative, or civilian.  Brian wants our members to know that he’s always there to talk: “Call me anytime.”

By:  Bobby Hidy, AVFRD Volunteer