moving charged hose

5 Reasons You Should Be A Firefighter

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I’m sitting in my car after my shift getting ready to drive home, and I began to think about what it is about this profession that attracted me to firefighting and to public safety. Many people who get in the fire service have wanted to be a firefighter since they were kids, I was not one of those kids. So I asked myself What are some benefits of being a firefighter that attracted me?

The ability to be home most of the time due to the awesome schedule of firefighting, the satisfaction I get out of helping people, the decent stable income, and the fact that this job is nowhere near a regular 9-5 job. I’m gonna go a bit deeper on each of these below.

A little history about me. Although I live and work in Wisconsin, I am originally from Worcester, MA. Little did I know that the cold storage fire that I witnessed while my mom brought my brother and I to my friends house one evening on december of 1999, would change the fire service forever.

That night a total of 6 firefighters died in that fire, and I remember even getting interviewed by the local news station about my 3rd grader opinion, and me telling them how cool it was to see that huge fire lol.

It really set in when I found out that a girl in our school was the daughter of one of the Worcester 6. There were departments all the way from Boston assisting in putting out that fire, and they were still spraying water on the wreckage almost two days later. This caused me to avoid the fire service or anything about it well into my adult life, but here I am.

You Enjoy Helping Others

One of the things that was very surprising to me that I seriously enjoy is helping others. Now, this is sooooo cliche when it is used as an answer during an interview, or if you are being asked by other firefighters or police officers if you pursue law enforcement. Helping others does have a very specific feeling of satisfaction, and being aware of this is very important. You do not want to not want to find out, this is something you do not enjoy after spending time, money and effort in getting into this career.

One way I found out personally that I like the feeling of helping people, was giving money away to people who looked like they were down on their luck. I’m not talking about only looking for people who were sleeping out in the street, I’m talking about normal people at the store, but you can see in their faces the look like they wish things could be better.

The best indicator for me is usually kids. You can tell with kids, especially when they seem adjusted to struggling, and that hits home for me because I remember feeling that way when I was a kid, as well as times my children would do the exact same thing. When this happened, I knew that I had to do something that can give me a stable income, as well. So this brings me into my next point

Stable Income

I’m sure you have heard of the saying many many times in life that money is not everything, or money does not bring happiness, or money is the root of all evil. Yes money is not everything, but it sure does relieve a whole lot of pressure. Now when it comes to money being the root of all evil, I sharply disagree. I personally believe in the bible, and what’s written in it. The bible clearly states that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil, not that money is the root of all evil. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be financially secure, and able to help others financially as well. 

The thing I love about firefighting is the stable income you can receive from working on average 9 days per month. Pretty cool right?! You get a full time income where many times it feels like a part time job. This of course depends on the type of fire department you work for. Full time salaries usually apply if you are with a full time department. If you work for a volunteer department, It can either be a strictly volunteer department, or it can be a paid on call basis department.

Absolutely no knock on volunteer departments, but I cannot not do this awesome job for free. Not because I’m selfish or anything like that, but I also have a family who depend on me, so it is what it is.

Not Your Typical 9-5

car fire

The thing I love most, and touched on it a little bit on my last point is the schedule you are able to work. Many departments work like two or three types of schedules. Some work 24 hours on followed by 48 hours off for the entire year. Other departments will work 48(2 days) on and 96 (4 days) off. A lot of the departments in my area work a California swing where it would be 3 back to back cycles of 24 hours on followed by 24 hours off, then 96 (4 days) off from there. This type of schedule makes it very easy to plan out an entire year with vacations, activities, and you are literally off more times than you are on. 

As a matter of fact, firefighters tend to have so much time off, that it is very common for many firefighters to have a second job that they do other than firefighting. Do not be mistaken, it is not because they are not making enough money. Many times, firefighters just flat out get bored being off so much. That may be your style, but it certainly isn’t mine. I enjoy all of my time off especially since my children are still young, and they grow up just so darn quickly.

Another perk of firefighting is that it is okay to sleep on the job! You heard that right! We like to call them safety naps. But they are very necessary, because you can never truly fall into a deep sleep because you are constantly anticipating tones going off right when you are about to hit a deep sleep. So as a firefighter, you tend to take safety naps whenever possible. Did I mention you also all cook together, and watch movies and TV while on shift? Yes yes and yes. This is all very true, and much much more.

You’re An Adrenaline Junkie

This job is one of those where you literally do not get the same thing everyday. One call you can be called to help an elderly patient get off of the floor, who fell while trying to move his walker, to a half hour later getting called to get a victim out of an upside down burning car out on the highway (true story). If you are worried about monotony, you will not be disappointed whatsoever.

Other calls that will get your adrenaline to dump are structure fires. Thinking of all the hazards you are about to face will get you jacked up on adrenaline with a slight feeling of butterflies or needing to use the bathroom. Even though you start to slowly get slightly less jacked up on adrenaline the more of these types of calls you go on, you begin to develop an idea of typical hazards you will run into, and how to avoid them.

You Love A Physical Job

ladder truck

The only time in this profession that you are doing something non physical, is possibly typing up reports for the calls you go on. Especially the medical calls. Every part of this profession is very physical. You have to condition your body to LOVE going up stairs while carrying anywhere between 30-75lbs of weight. Depending on the type of call, you’ll be wearing your SCBA, with all of your turnout gear. If you are going into a high rise, you’ll likely carry a high rise pack (bundled up hose designed to hook into a high rise building’s sprinkler system) and many of the breaching tools.

You also will almost always have a weight room in the station. Being physically strong is such an essential key to your survival, and for other victims you will need to possibly rescue. In this Article, I talk a bit more about the types of strength training for heavyweights you and I should be doing. But this article also applies for people who are not heavyweights but are looking to be firefighter fit.

Along with the required strength, it takes mental toughness when things become physically hard. For example, in this profession, you can work on as much cardio as possible, but every time you don your turnout gear with SCBA, your work capacity is much lower than it usually is. So when you are at that point of exhaustion or even running a little bit of air and the mask begins to suck in your face, it takes a lot of mental toughness not to panic.

You Enjoy Being Part Of A Team

firefighters walking

Firefighting is a very team oriented profession. When I tell you that you do nearly everything as a team, I mean it. You cook together (and you can’t suck at it, or you won’t be allowed to cook again lol). You also clean together, watch movies together, go grocery shopping together, watch movies together.

You might be wondering, why grocery shopping together, if one person can go with a list and get what everyone needs. You would be correct on that point. The thought is, if we get dispatched to a call while grocery shopping, then we can just go directly from the grocery store, and once we are done, we could just come back.

It is important to do training and working out as a team, because you train like you play. You will never be doing things by yourself on the fireground, unless it is an immediate life or death emergency. There really is no part of this profession for individualism, and if working as part of a team is enjoyable to you, you are definitely in the right place!

Conclusion

The fire service has all kinds of people from all walks of life. And this is something that you may have never previously thought about, that you may enjoy very much. This is only a list of 5 things that pretty much describe me and my reasonings for joining the fire service. Like I mentioned at the beginning, it is important to know whether or not this is something you want to get into.

Check out my other post I have about preparation for the fire academy and even workout tips for heavyweights in the fire service like us.

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