The Singing Fireman

While on the job I became acquainted with many Firefighters who preached the gospel. They were men of God and wonderful running mates. One of them was Big Bill Russell. You may remember him as the bear fighting coach. I received a letter recently from another brother Firefighter who spreads the word of God. His name is Cliff Thurlow. He retired out of the Flint, Michigan Department 17 years ago. His heart will always be with the Fire Service. He still preaches the gospel. Hope you enjoy Cliff’s letter.

Cliff Thurlow's Letter

As we grow up, and experiences become hindsight, we are often amazed at how our lives truly become a tapestry. As I reflect on my own life, there is a sense of peace as purpose and meaning become more clear and apparent. My passion for singing at three years old has become obvious to me a strong gift God is using for the plan he has for my life.

At 21 years of age, I decided to quit my job at General Motors to become a Firefighter. It was the best decision I ever made for myself. I fell in love with the profession. Over 27 years ago, I was asked to put music to “The Fireman’s Poem” which was written by Smokey Linn from Wichita, Kansas. Not too many years ago, I was excited to have shared the music with Smokey and had many conversations with him. I have had the privilege of singing “The Fireman’s Prayer” at numerous memorial services and, unfortunately, at more Firefighters’ funerals than I care to remember. I have also been honored to sing at the Roscommon, Michigan Firefighter’s Memorial.

I also had the privilege of joining a group of Farmington Hills, Michigan Firefighters who decided to walk from Detroit to New York City following the 911 catastrophe. Our goal was to walk this 750-mile journey in order to raise funds to contribute to the widows and orphans fund for the fallen heroes of 911. It was also a way to find some relief from the brokenness and grief in our hearts, as we are truly a brotherhood. We were greeted by hundreds of people and children lining the streets of towns along the way. It was a very humbling experience. I was honored to have sung “The Fireman’s Prayer” near ground zero on several occasions.

Life can be complex and confusing at times. Eleven years ago, my wife of 35 years, was bitten by a brown recluse spider while we were vacationing in Arkansas. She was confined to a wheelchair and passed away two years later. This was a trying time for our four adult children, their spouses, and our eight grandchildren. With God’s help we have overcome this tragedy. We still sing praises to him as we travel and minister, in music, to the many churches and events across the state of Michigan. God has blessed me with a new wife of 15 months. You see, His faithfulness never ceases when we follow Him. We now have five children and eleven grandchildren, lots of life, busyness, and fun times.

Although I retired from the Flint City Fire Department nearly 17 years ago, my love and respect for the profession remains. Couple that with my love for music, and you’ll understand why most recently I produced a music video of the “Fireman’s Prayer” and the “Fireman’s Hymn.” After ten months of filming and production, the DVD is now complete. It is my strong desire to see it reach as many Firefighters, their families, and friends in order to bring encouragement and healing to those who have lost a hero in their lives. It is my small contribution to and appreciation of the men and women who courageously, day to day, put their lives on the line. For “No greater love has someone than to lay down his life for his brother (John 15:13 ).

The tapestry is beginning to take form. Clearly it is not complete; but I see the hand of my maker at work. He is truly magnificent!

Please visit my website at or contact me at or call 810 686 1445.

Please send any comments or stories you may want to appear on Fire Talk to Bob Haig at

"Fire Talk" Archives

"Fire Horses" book authored by firefighter R.J. Haig.


Home PageAbout the BookFirefighting LinksAbout R. J. HaigPhoto GalleryTrail of the FirewriterFire TalkCop Talk