Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Deploys After Bronx Apartment Fire

from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association


After New York City faced its worst fire in over 30 years, killing 17 people—including eight children—chaplains from the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) deployed to offer emotional and spiritual care.

“Our hearts go out to all those who lost loved ones, all those impacted by this devastating fire, and the first responders,” said Josh Holland, assistant director of the BG-RRT. “We want to show our support as we send crisis-trained chaplains to provide emotional and spiritual support for all of those who are hurting.”

The fire broke out Sunday, Jan. 9, in a 19-story Bronx apartment complex and smoke quickly spread throughout the building. The tragedy was caused by a faulty space heater.

Chaplain coordinator and retired police officer Jason Scalzi led a small team of chaplains who offered prayer and a listening ear to community members in the Bronx. For him, the deployment was about offering a “ministry of presence of just being there for them to grieve. I know the firemen and fire responders are grieving, as well,” Scalzi said.

“Sometimes just a hug or shoulder to cry on is better than any words could ever be,” Scalzi said. “[We were] there to serve in any way that’s needed.”

This marked the first BG-RRT response of 2022. More chaplains are still ministering in Boulder, Colorado, due to recent wildfires,  Kentucky following tornadoes, and Houma, Louisiana following Hurricane Ida.

For more information about the BG-RRT ministry, visit