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  1. #1
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    Default Hello...I was wondering what the daily life of a firefighter is like

    I do not have intentions on being a firefighter, but my girlfriend has wanted this since she was a kid. And she says this is honestly what she wants to do with her life. I'm prepared to support her fully but I want to know what she's actually in for.

    Are most of the calls you guys respond to, fire related? Or are most of them just accidents that you have to go to?

    Thank you so much for your time.


  2. #2
    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    Good place to come to get some answers. Some of them you'll like, some of them you won't. Be warned - the crowd in this theater can be tough sometimes!

    Unless she's planning on working in a huge city or a place with a lot of urban blight, she isn't going to go to a whole lot of fire. EMS is what a majority of the fire service call load is...if she doesn't like tending to sick people, she better find a way to start liking it.

    The call volume depends a lot on the station and the surrounding area. In my current assignment, we do a TON of geriatric EMS with the occaisional fire or vehicle accident sprinkled in for good measure. At my last assignment, the area was socioeconomically depressed, so we ran shootings, cuttings, stabbings, bad wrecks on the interstate, lots of single family dwelling fires and the occaisional commercial fire. Good times, I tell ya.

    If you live in an area with volunteer fire departments, that would be a good way for both of you all to get an idea about what being a firefighter is like. If you're in an urban area with no VFD's, both of you should stop by one of the local career stations and talk to the members about the job, take a look at the equipment too. It can be a lot to take in.

    Here's a link to some videos about the fire service...although this looks at one department in particular, the first two videos in the link will probably give you an idea of what 24 hours in the firehouse is like. 24 Hours in the Life.

    Best of luck, ask whatever you might want...
    Career Fire Captain
    Volunteer Chief Officer


    Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

  3. #3
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    It all depends on the dept. Some depts do not offer any medical services, so all their calls will be fire, rescue, vehicle accidents, HAZMAT and the likes. Most depts, however, do offer EMS and it seems the average across the nation seems to be in the 70%-80% range of medical to fire calls.

    It seems the majority of depts have some sort of a schedule based off a 24 hour shift (24 on, 48 off or some variation thereof). Also, most depts do their shift change in the morning. Here's what daily life is usually like at my dept:

    - 0730 shift change
    - 0730-0830 truck checks and maintenance (i.e. washing)
    - 0830 station duties (every day we have a different chore: landscaping, cleaning, windows, etc.). This usually lasts a couple hours, sometimes more, sometimes less.
    - sometime in the morning the crew cooking for the day goes to the store
    - lunch is usually around noon, depending on what's going on.
    - afternoon is usually PT, fire/ems training and other station duties that come up.
    - 1800-1900 dinner
    - 1900-2000 clean-up kitchen and dining table
    - 2000---- relax, watch TV
    - most go to sleep between 2200-2400
    - 0630 wake up and do morning chores before next shift arrives

    Usually we have some sort of training each day mixed in there. It can be something quick and simple like airway management to a larger multi-company auto extrication exercise.

    Then we have our runs... they come at any and all times and obviously take priority over everything else. Fortunately for our citizens, we have very few actual fires (maybe 40-50 per year, 1 or 2 a month are the "big ones" you might see on TV). Most of our stations run about 4-6 calls each day, including medical. Some are busier averaging 8-10 and others are quite slow doing 1 or 2. And of course there's days that we don't get sent on a single run.

    Depending on the dept she ends up working for, she may also have some other speciality teams that she might be able to try-out for such as: swift water rescue, fire boat, confined space rescue, rope technician, HAZMAT teams, etc.

    It's the best job out there. You seldom see people change jobs from firefighting on their own will... usually it's a significant life event that forces the change (family moving, disability, etc.). It's also one of the most difficult job to currently get, so be prepared for a long road of hiring processes with her. That will probably be the most important time to support her, in addition to the academy.

  4. #4
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Times of tedium, times of boredom, times of friendship and camaraderie and moments of absolute sheer terror...
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 07-10-2010 at 07:05 AM. Reason: spelling corrections..did not have brain engaged at the time of posting! : ^ )
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  5. #5
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    How about have her join the forum and ask some questions? She likely has some of her own. Of course, you're not really gonna get any feel for what the work/life is like by reading about it on the internet. I second the volunteer suggestion to get a feel for the work. Volunteer departments do the same stuff, just less often. Even if your town doesn't have a volunteer FD, check with neighboring districts. Some VFDs will accept members from neighboring towns if they need members.

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Times of tedium, times of boredom, tmes of freinship and camaraderie and mo,mnets of absolute sheer terror...
    And this.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FuturePrimitive View Post
    Volunteer departments do the same stuff, just less often.


    .
    Well, maybe. If it's a staffed volunteer station then yes, their routines might be very similar to a paid department. If it's an on-call, unstaffed station there is no daily routine. Everyone's at home till the pager goes off. You can still drop by during a training night to get a feel for the place, but it won't really show you what a day on duty is really like.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  7. #7
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    Depending on the shift schedule of the department and the number of crews they have, you can count on her being gone from home for a fourth to a third of the time. That may not sound like much, but when you look over at 24 years, it is 6 to 8 years gone from home. There is missing holidays, events at school and important family days as well. Another thing is that when she is on duty she is spending time with her ‘other’ family, some spouses have a hard time adjusting to that.

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    Dont forget the nightly coed showers.

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rm1524 View Post
    There is missing holidays, events at school and important family days as well. .
    Yes, but there's also being able to attend events at school because you're off on a weekday when the rest of the world is at work
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmleblanc View Post
    Yes, but there's also being able to attend events at school because you're off on a weekday when the rest of the world is at work
    Exactly... I've spent more time with my wife and pre-school age son since I've been a FF than ever before. It's a great schedule. I work 10 days per month and have 20 days off. I can meet her for lunch, go see my son at pre-school, work a second job, do projects around the house, etc.

  11. #11
    Forum Member FiremanLyman's Avatar
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    After shift change and the morning breifing, we ALWAYS get in a breakfast taco run.

    Lunch is usually a sandwich, unless we are running around, then we hit the sub shop.

    Dinner is usually cooked by us... unless we go out for BBQ or Mexican.

    We always meet our sister engine from next district over when we go out to eat. That is probably the best part of the job, the BS'ing with the guys.

    Oh yeah. Throw in training, station maintenance, a few EMS calls, a wreck, and a fire now and then.
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by FiremanLyman View Post
    We always meet our sister engine from next district over when we go out to eat. That is probably the best part of the job, the BS'ing with the guys.
    Doesn't that ever bite you in the ***?

  13. #13
    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erics99 View Post
    Doesn't that ever bite you in the ***?
    Not when the place is on the border of both districts. We sometimes do this also.
    Career Fire Captain
    Volunteer Chief Officer


    Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

  14. #14
    Forum Member FiremanLyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erics99 View Post
    Doesn't that ever bite you in the ***?
    Nah... our breakfast spot is in our district and a few hundred meters out of theirs. Our dinner spot is in neither of our districts, but a 1/4 mile straight shot up the highway access road into both ours and theirs. We've never busted our responce times (yet).
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

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