My bishop called me to serve as the assistant building representative in my ward. There are three wards that meet in our building, which is the stake centre. Each month, a ward is assigned the responsibility of cleaning this meetinghouse and doing a nightly building check. My specific assignment is to make sure that the building is secure, that all the windows are closed, and that all the outside doors are locked. In our ward these security responsibilities are shared between the ward building representative and the assistant building representative. My ward’s assigned months are January, April, July and October.
Come and Help
I take my calling seriously. God revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Therefore, let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:109). I am grateful that I can be a helper for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf recently explained at general conference, “There are numerous opportunities for people to help in our Church” (“Missionary Work: Sharing What Is in Your Heart,” Ensign, May 2019, 14).
On Wednesday, July 18th, 2019 after my mother came home from a Relief Society activity at a nearby park, I rode my bike down to the church to do the evening building check. I arrived in time to assist a Young Men’s leader store some groceries in the kitchen for their camp the next day.
Responding to Danger
After he left, I began my check of the building. I started down the hallway checking each classroom to make sure that the lights were off and that no one was inside. As I finished the Young Women’s room, I could smell smoke in the building. I retraced my steps back to the kitchen and saw that there was a fire on the stove. I attempted to see that the burners were turned off, but the fire was too hot.
I exited the building through the kitchen door and called out—“Help! Fire! Fire!”
I hoped someone might hear me. A man walking nearby came over to me and called the fire department. We soon heard the sirens of the responding fire trucks. Due to the size of the building involved, fire trucks responded from all four fire stations in the city.
After calling the fire department, the man who assisted me let me use his phone to call my mother, and I told her what had happened. She assured me that I had done the right thing.
First Responders Arrive Quickly
After the fire trucks arrived, one of the firemen who is a member of our stake, asked me for my bishop’s name. He then called the bishop and told him about the fire. He asked me if I had a key that they could use to access the building instead of having to break any of the doors. They told me that they would make sure to return it. I quickly gave it to them.
I was very scared about what was happening. I wondered what I could have done to prevent the fire from happening.
Soon, my parents arrived at the church as well. They assured me that I had done all the right things. When the bishop arrived, he also reassured me that I had done everything that I needed to do.
A paramedic van had also arrived with the fire trucks, and the responding paramedics recommended that I be assessed by them to ensure that I did not have any residual effects from smoke inhalation. I didn’t think it was necessary, but my parents explained to me that it would be best if I allowed them to verify that I really was okay.
They accompanied me to their van. It was interesting seeing all the equipment that they had inside. Their tests confirmed that my oxygen levels were okay, and I would be fine.
Over the next few days following the fire I had several calls and interviews with people regarding the fire. I had a meeting with the Chief Fire Inspector for the city. I also had a call from the regional facilities management offices and Church headquarters.
Gratitude for Spiritual Promptings
I am thankful that someone heard my cry for help and called 911 for me after I found the fire. It was very fortunate that I checked the building at the time that I did. The damage to the church was minimized because I discovered the fire so early. I am grateful that I followed the promptings of the Holy Ghost to check the chapel when I did and that I was guided in what to do. If we are faithful, the scriptures promise us, “And the Lord shall guide thee continually” (Isaiah 58:11).