“You’ll Be Needed in 30 Minutes,” Ensign, Feb. 1999, 62–63
I’ve served in my small-town volunteer fire department for over a decade. A few years back I spent two evenings a week attending an emergency medical technician course sponsored by a neighboring fire department. After class I would often seek out the late-night peace and solitude of our unmanned fire station to continue my studies. With only about 100 emergency calls a year, an interruption was unlikely.
One night I arrived at the empty fire station at 10:30 P.M., concentrating on my studies until after midnight. The late hour wasn’t unusual for me as I had worked nights for quite a while and enjoyed it. Needing a break from my studies, I spied a stack of fire department reports in need of filing and took up the task.
After half an hour of filing reports, I decided I’d worked long enough and tossed the remaining papers on top of the filing cabinet. It’s time to go home, I thought.
Suddenly I heard someone say, “You can’t leave now. You’ll be needed in 30 minutes.” I looked around, but no one was there.
The clock above the cabinet read 1:05 A.M. It took me a few seconds to grasp what had just happened. Motionless, I stood pondering the experience. Then I opened the drawer and resumed filing.
Boy am I getting punchy at this late hour, I thought.
The minutes passed until the early-morning silence was shattered by the department’s fire alarm. Before the radio dispatcher could utter a word, my eyes swung to the wall clock. It was 1:35 A.M., 30 minutes since I’d heard a voice telling me not to leave.
Three miles away a house was on fire, and the dispatcher sounded nervous. At such an early hour firefighters would ordinarily be at home asleep.
Hoping to cut the warm-up time for the trucks and firefighters who would soon be arriving to drive them, I rushed to the apparatus floor and started three engines. Seated behind the driver’s seat of one truck, I anxiously waited for others to arrive, but no one showed. Knowing that some of the firefighters lived near the burning residence, I decided to head out alone, hoping they would be there when I arrived.
One of those who lived close by was the fire chief. First on the scene, he had run into the house, where orange flames danced across the master-bedroom ceiling, and helped everyone to safety. Then he stood on the road watching the house burn, knowing that within a few minutes the entire structure could be in flames and feeling helpless to save it without proper equipment. As he lifted his radio to signal additional alarms, he saw his main engine coming down the street!
At first he thought his mind was playing tricks on him. He couldn’t believe that anyone could get out of bed, get dressed, drive to the fire station, and get the truck that quickly—yet there it was. Within seconds neighboring firefighters began arriving, and the flames were quickly doused. The extent of the damage was a burned bedroom, a charred attic, and a small hole in the roof.
Back at the fire station, the chief approached me. “When I saw the blaze, I knew that at that early hour the house would be lost before someone could get to the station and drive a truck to the fire,” he said. “You don’t know how surprised and thankful I was to see that truck coming down the road. By the way, what in the world were you doing at the station so late at night?”
I explained that I had been studying after that night’s EMT class. Luckily, I told him, I stayed late.
It was shortly thereafter that I encountered the missionaries. When they told me about their belief in personal revelation and service to others, I knew they spoke the truth and I listened and learned more. I found the true Church of Jesus Christ.