Tony Ede, pastor at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Manchester is the new chaplain of the Iowa Firefighters Association. Ede was named IFA chaplain at the IFA convention earlier this month in Grinnell.
Ede has been a member of the Manchester Fire Department since moving to Manchester in 2013. Before that, he had been on the departments in Kimballton and Elkhorn and served as an EMT in Webster City.
Ede said his involvement with fire and emergency services began when he was very young. “My grandfather was a firefighter and first responder on the Westgate Fire and Rescue and my dad was a firefighter and EMT on Westgate Fire and Rescue. I can remember being a little kid and riding with grandpa in the fire truck in parades. And when I was in preschool, grandpa came and brought the fire truck to preschool. So I have always been around fire and emergency services and have always had a place in my heart for them.”
As IFA chaplain, Ede expects to offer prayer and invocations at IFA events, as well as at the yearly ceremony at the Iowa Firefighters Memorial in Coralville, where the annual service remembers fallen firefighters from the past year. “I have a special place in my heart for that, because I have friends I grew up with whose dads are on that wall.”
Ede believes serving as IFA chaplain is a natural extension of his role as pastor. “If I look back at some of the big events we have had here in Manchester that resulted in fatalities, I am immediately in that gear, thinking ‘how can I help? Who do we need to contact?’ It’s an extension of what I do here, but maybe in a bit of a different role.”
Ede also believes critical incident debriefing is important to firefighters. “I’m an advocate for that to be there and help people process and let them have emotions. It’s tough stuff and those of us in emergency services see a lot of bad stuff.”
Ede says he often sees area departments working together, whether it’s with training, responding to mutual aid calls, helping with services of fallen firefighters or simply bonding.
“We have raised the flag on our large ladder truck for firefighter funerals. When I die, I don’t want to ride in a Cadillac. I’d rather be on a fire truck.”
Ede’s IFA term is open-ended. He said the chaplain before him served nine years. “With it being open-ended, there is a lot I can kind of craft into the chaplaincy. Everybody who is a chaplain has different abilities. But I know I will serve as long as they need me.”