If you didn’t know, I’m married to a
firefighter a hot ass firefighter. My husband is going to love that sentence and picture below. Ha!
There are a lot of misconceptions about the fire department/fire life that I’m going to set straight for you right here. I’ve been in this fire life for 15 years now and it surprises me how many times I hear people ask questions that I just assumed they knew. So lets start…
1. They work 24 hour shifts. Simple bullet point information below because it can get confusing.
- Shift (usually) starts at 8 am and ends 8 am the following day.
- They don’t come home at night. They sleep at the fire station in rooms that are furnished by the city (They do however bring their own bedding).
- They work every other day for 8 days- that means 4 total 24 hour shifts, then they get either 4 or 6 days off in a row (and boy do they need it).
- They often get forced to work on their days off OR can pick up an extra shift during this 8 day work week (aka a ‘go around’). If they do that, that means they work 3 days straight, get one day off and back on shift the next day. THAT means they work 4 out of 5 days. 🤭
- There are three shifts (A, B and C) often denoted on the schedule with set colors (see picture below).
- Because the schedule is a set pattern, their schedule is known months and years in advanced (assuming you stay on the same shift) which actually can be very nice.
- That also means that they work many holidays (no they don’t get paid extra) and miss lots of events like birthdays and family gathering.
Below is an example of the fire schedule (aka the Kelly Schedule)
2. They buy and cook all their own meals. No the city does not pay for their food. They shop daily (or bring in their own food) and make all their own meals. So don’t worry, no tax payers money is being used on any food you see them purchasing at the grocery store.
3. Every time anyone calls 911, the FD will go. That means if you called 911 because your tummy hurts or because you have the flu… yup they will arrive in the fire engine to your house. Again, they go on every single 911 call…. and remember folks NINE ONE ONE means EMERGENCY … I am specifically yelling this to you because when you call 911 when it is not an emergency you take that engine out of service, so the mom that is choking or the kid that was just hit by a car or the dad who had a heart attack and fell to ground unconscious? Whelp, their designated fire engine is not available to help them and another (further) engine has to get dispatched. And my friends,
minutes seconds matter in these life and death situations. 911 abuse is real. For all NON emergency situations I urge you to please call the local police or sheriff station and if you need medical attention drive yourself or have someone drive you to the hospital.
4. The tax payers or city DOES NOT pay for their retirement. These fire fighters elect to put a large portion of their check into a retirement account. Some departments will match their retirement, but the majority of them do not. So when you hear how much they get for retirement, don’t be fooled, it was years of saving and smart investing.
5. They don’t sit around on lazy boys all day long and BRO out. So please stop saying that. Not only do they have daily station duties that can take upwards of the entire morning to finish, but they have other city duties like inspections around the city (making sure commercial buildings have working fire extinguishers, checking and testing fire hydrants). They also have training and drills to keep them up to date and informed. In addition they do public safety classes, station tours (think field trips), grocery shop for the day and get the required exercise they need to stay in shape for the demands of the job. Aaaaand when they aren’t doing any of the above, they ARE resting because guess what else? They are up…. at night… a lot. Sometimes Wes comes home with just 1-2 hours of sleep. Shucks, sometimes he’s awake all night! You think having a newborn is bad? Shit, these guys have to be fully awake and functioning after being abruptly and loudly woken up from their sleep, only to be gone for sometimes hours, and then expected to fall right back to sleep, pfft. So… if they do relax and nap during the day, then you know why. You get sleep where you can.
Lastly I wanted to say that these firefighters work with tireless effort. They are selfless in their pursuit of helping others, that’s why they call them heroes. It sounds cheesy but it really couldn’t be more true and the kicker is, is that they rarely see themselves as ‘heroes’. To them, it’s their job and duty, what they signed on for. But I couldn’t disagree more. They sacrifice their lives… their sanity, their mental, physical and emotional health for the good of others. They see things that most humans would not be able to cope with, yet they do day in and day out. They are exposed to some of the most horrific (and I believe life altering experiences). They truly are some of the most brave and strong people I know. If that’s not a hero I honestly don’t know what is.
This fact alone scares the shit out of me- 68% of firefighters will develop cancer, that’s 2 out of every 3 firefighter. When I put that stat into perspective that means of my husband’s crew (three to a crew) two of them will get cancer. That. Is. Insanity. Agreed?
So, I hope I cleared up some common (incorrect) assumptions about the FD. This fire life… it’s a crazy, fearful and always changing one, but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.
Learn something new from this post? Feel free to comment below OR if you have any questions, feel free to ask. 😄
*a special thanks to my fire family for sending suggestions for this post. There is no one else that knows it better than these folk that live it as I do!