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  1. #1
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    Default Life married to a firefighter

    I love her with all my heart but I do know that her having this career will take somewhat of a toll on our relationship. I just want to know how you do it. How do you stand knowing that the person you love is risking their life every day?


  2. #2
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    Well, I'm the firefighter and my wife doesn't post on here, so I'll just give you what I think her reply would be.

    I have never been happier at any other job, even when I was active duty military. This happiness not only shows on the job, but makes me much more energetic and pleasant at home.

    She will learn what you can handle and what you can't. For example, I tell my wife about few of the children we've had to help since I know she will take those cases to heart.

    When she is hired (or before), she will receive extensive training on what to do and how to do it SAFELY. She'll also be given a lot of protective equipment. Although some of the stuff we do may seem insane to people outside the fire service, it's calculated risks and there are usually redundancies of safeties built in.

    Once she is hired (maybe wait until after probation, depending on the climate of the dept), see if they'll let you do a ride along, even if it isn't with her. Meet the people she works with. Remember that they will become a very close group because they depend on each other for their safety. Don't be jealous of this or else it will destroy your relationship with her. A lot of times everyone and their families hang out during their off duty times. Go to the river together, have BBQs, go to sporting events, kids playing together, etc.

    And remember, there are very few depts like you see in the movies. Most of us aren't running from fire to fire to fire putting ourselves in harm's way every few minutes. The movies/TV shows are usually made up of those runs that'll we'll have only a few times in our careers (who really wants to watch 4 guys lift a person on a cot down three flights of stairs because they are "feeling sick" and want to go to the hospital?).

  3. #3
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    Default it can be hard

    I have been with my fiancee for 5 years, we are getting married this october. When I met him he was an accountant, graduating from EMS training. He, at the time was just a call firefighter, with no major plans to become a firefighter full time. Not even a year into the relationship he decided that he was going to quit his job and go back to school to become a paramedic. *surprise* I was deeply in love, and his passion for this was obvious, but I had, and I guess still have a lot of fears. He has now been a full time paramedic for over 2 years, and I am still just as worried for him as I was then.

    Its a major adjustment. The schedule can be crazy, and there is a chance that she could get seriously hurt. But your wife has a greater chance of being in a car accident than actually getting seriously hurt at work. I have to keep reminding myself that. She's in good hands, and they take all the precautions possible. My fear is real, as is yours for your wife. I dont talk to him about my fears though, because what good would that do. Some nights I have nightmares, but he doesn't need to be worrying about me when he's saving someone's life.

    I handle it by staying busy, not thinking about it. I don't freak out when he doesn't answer his phone, cuz he's probably on a call. And I breath, and take it one day at a time. You have to get use to life getting disrupted, and maybe one day you'll get use to it.

    I hope this helps

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    This is actually boondock's wife posting under his account. He has been a full time firefighter/paramedic for almost three years now, and yes, there are aspects that are hard on our relationship. But there are also things that are positives as well.

    The risk that you asked about: I worry about firefighting risks, but also about job related stress, the exposure to carcinogens, vehicle crashes on the way to or from a scene, and violent patients or bystanders.

    But as someone else said, those risks are still pretty low compared to the chance of death or injury from a non-job related cause. You just accept that tomorrow is never promised for anyone, anywhere. I trust in the Lord's plan for our life together, and work hard not to approach life from a perspective of fear.

    One thing that we started doing as a way for me to have more peace about the job was to always take the time to have a "good" good-bye, regardless of time or mood or whatever. Good long hug, a kiss or two, just a little moment between us. This little thing has made a big difference in our relationship.

  5. #5
    Forum Member JayDudley's Avatar
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    Default wives and the fire service

    For a Firefighters marriage to survive you need to spend any time you have with them. I had the misfortune to get divorced out of drill school....then get married for almost twenty years with most of that time working, working overtimes,Union business, extra activities with the job. To say I should have spent more time at home with the family as my second wife died from complications from her surgery. You need to spend time with those you love because "Life is Short" . If I had to do it all over again I would not have spread myself so thin and spent more time at home.
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
    Retired Fire
    Background Investigator
    IACOJ-Member
    Lifetime Member CSFA
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    Forum Member L-Webb's Avatar
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    For me it is different as my wife is a EMT, so she knows the dangers and how crazy things can get. She does worry still, everytime I'm at work and we get a structure fire I always call her while we are enroute and tell her where it is and that I love her, because you never know.

    I work in rural county in ga. we are a county based EMS service that also does fire suppression.... best of both worlds I say.
    Bring enough hose.

  7. #7
    Forum Member L-Webb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayDudley View Post
    For a Firefighters marriage to survive you need to spend any time you have with them. I had the misfortune to get divorced out of drill school....then get married for almost twenty years with most of that time working, working overtimes,Union business, extra activities with the job. To say I should have spent more time at home with the family as my second wife died from complications from her surgery. You need to spend time with those you love because "Life is Short" . If I had to do it all over again I would not have spread myself so thin and spent more time at home.
    Sorry to hear about your wife.


    I don't know what I would do without my honey.
    Bring enough hose.

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    Forum Member JayDudley's Avatar
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    Default Thanks

    Thank you for your response. She was the best when it came to family and functions. My current wife also understands the Fire Service and as Fire Commissioner I'm home a lot more.
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
    Retired Fire
    Background Investigator
    IACOJ-Member
    Lifetime Member CSFA
    IAFF Alumni Member

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by leo92 View Post
    I love her with all my heart but I do know that her having this career will take somewhat of a toll on our relationship. I just want to know how you do it. How do you stand knowing that the person you love is risking their life every day?
    It won't be the toll of knowing that she is in a high risk Job, but more the getting used to turning up to family functions and school days on your own over many years. (That does actually take it's toll.) Also tiredness, or if something happens at work that is playing on her mind.

    For me going into a new relationship will be difficult because of the call outs (volunteer) during dinner or on special family occasions.
    I always stay in contact as much as I can with my children during long call outs.

    This is a little community advertisment of what to expect at least in my position.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8A8Ar...layer_embedded

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    I am a volunteer and a fit 50yo who has just finished my training. During the training I put in a lot of hours and also had the regular brigade meetings and HR's & PR's. I didnt get too many complaints but have now when the pager goes off in the early hours of the morning. I just reminded my husband that its what I like to do and that I dont particularly like him drum practising in our garage but its something that we have to tolerate of each other.
    I think that couples have to have their own interests too because it does take you away a bit , especially in summer.

    I have noticed though in the brigade a lot of divorcees and also a lot of couples in the same brigade working along side each other fine. There are also a few divorcees meeting up in the brigade and getting together. At least that solves the problem of partners not understanding the committment

  11. #11
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    Cool How to Prep Yourself.....

    Once she is hired (maybe wait until after probation, depending on the climate of the dept), see if they'll let you do a ride along, even if it isn't with her. Meet the people she works with. Remember that they will become a very close group because they depend on each other for their safety. Don't be jealous of this or else it will destroy your relationship with her. A lot of times everyone and their families hang out during their off duty times. Go to the river together, have BBQs, go to sporting events, kids playing together, etc.
    This is how I addressed this issue with my 2nd wife, yep I lost my 1st wife to the Job and other issues.....

    It also makes it cool that when she tells stories about her colleagues you know exactly who they are and their personalities which allow you both to laugh even harder. Laughing together is very important.....

    Here's another thought process... Much like a teenager, you can either support her and she'll open-up to you and when she needs to talk remember God gave ya' all (2) ears and (1) mouth. When she's "venting" don't try and fix it, unless she asks for help or advice then don't offer it. That's gonna be difficult, trust me. My wife's a RN in labor and delivery/post pardum and often when she has a "bad baby, bad patient, etc." I'm her "sounding board." If you don't, she'll work the Job and keep you outside emotionally and find somebody else to be her "sounding board." You'll never know when things are good and will mostly find out when things are bad by her "biting your head-off." If she asks for advice and you don't know, then tell her that it'll show that you respect what she's going through and will also be 100% honest with her.

    Plug yourself into a Spousal Support Program, like you have done here. This is a great start. Feel free to get the emails, cell phones, home phone numbers of the wives/husbands of folks she works with. You can also do the same with folks at church, social clubs, the gym or whatever social functions ya' all attend. If you're gonna go this route though, tell her in advance or get them while she's standing there so that she understands and knows what's going on. Remember, keep it positive with her.....

    This truly is the best Job in the world..... Plan a huge party when she makes her 1st grab and she'll never forget it. It'll show her that you respect the positive part of her Job, allows her to brag a bit and also will help you to feel proud of what she does.

    Well, I hope this makes sense to ya..... If you have any other questions or issues feel free to send me a P.M. and I'll have you talk directly to my wife.
    "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

    Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

    Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leo92 View Post
    I love her with all my heart but I do know that her having this career will take somewhat of a toll on our relationship. I just want to know how you do it. How do you stand knowing that the person you love is risking their life every day?

    I understand your concern, but personally I think the whole "risking their life every day" is a little overblown. Do firefighters occasionally get injured or killed in the line of duty. Unfortunately, yes. About 100 firefighters die in the line of duty, nationwide, every year. While one firefighter death is too many, consider the hundreds of thousands of calls run every year. Statistically, there are more dangerous occupations.

    Firefighters are not expected to put their lives at risk unneccesarily. Do firefighters sometimes risk life and limb when a human life is at stake? Yes. Does the average firefighter face these extreme situations every day? No.
    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"

  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber ROOKIELZ's Avatar
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    No scanners in the house. Not for him, not for you. None.


    He will be gone a lot. When he's home, it is family time; you, him and any family you may have. Draw the line. Right now.

    When he's home, he doesn't need to listen to what the others are doing and you don't need to listen to something that you don't understand.

    My husband has been a VFF for hmmm...has it really been over 16 years? Wow!

    I eventually became a VFF myself. In the beginning it made it worse, because I had questions galore and the poor guy was patient enough to sit and answer them ad nauseum until I got enough training and information to get past that stage.

    There have been many times when we have been on incidents together. He goes his way and I go mine. We both have work to do and we concentrate on that. Even the way we handle the nastier incidents is totally different. He goes and vegetates in front of the tv. I want to talk it through or I go clean something.

    There are times when he will be digesting something he has seen or been involved in resolving and it will take time. This is no time to nag, cajole or bug him into telling you what is wrong. Leave him be unless it affects him, or your life in an untoward way. If he's hurting...send him down to the station or get a FF friend over. There are things that sometimes only the FF's can get through together.

    This post probably sounds pretty tough. It was for me in the beginning and we had already been married a while.

    At times you may want to talk about you and how it affects you. Find another FF wife.

    See what I am saying, this isn't a career. It's another family with work and family demands, needs and bonuses.

    Forget what he is doing at work. It may be something; it may be nothing. Go on with your life, and you won't have time to worry. Nothing you can do anyway, right? So don't sit there and fret. Been there and done that. It's a waste of your time and emotion.

    And ... enjoy your time together.

    As long as he is still coming home to you... well...that's all that matters, right?
    IACOJ
    If you are willing to teach;
    I am willing to learn.

  14. #14
    Forum Member Brigid's Avatar
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    Exclamation

    I'm dating a volunteer firefighter / EMT-B. And yeah, it's tough, but don't freak out here.

    Your sweetheart will never be asked to take unnecessary risks to her life to save someone else's. That doesn't mean there's no danger, but it does mean that they make her job as safe as it possibly can be. Okay?

    Her pager will go off at 2am when you have to work the next day. And all you can do is kiss her and cheerfully say, "Go be heroic!"

    But more often than not, it'll be quiet. The calls, when they come, will be short and minor. Someone might be having a heart attack and needs a ride to the ER. Somebody's fridge coils overheat and they can't figure out where the smoke is coming from. Or some concerned citizen is convinced that the exhaust from a logging truck is a "moving wildfire." (True story.)

    Most days, that's as exciting as it gets. When it gets more exciting, it's probably going to be a car crash. And she'll wear a fluorescent vest, and a buddy will guide traffic around the scene, and she'll have a very experienced boss who knows how to do it all--and safely.

    Thing is, she's a resource. Her department doesn't want to lose her any more than you do. Mostly because it's a family and they love her, but also because it's expensive to lose someone and to train a replacement, they'll do everything they can to protect her. She'll be pretty darn safe, but some days she will put her job ahead of you.

    It'll be hard, getting left behind.

    I just joined my boyfriend's department, in part because I'm sick of not being useful and in part because I've wanted to be an EMT since before I met him. And I'm still getting left behind, because I don't have enough training to be useful yet. But I'll get there.
    A lot of people end up joining because of their significant others. You can be fire ground support, a driver, or just a flunky. They need flunkies. But sometimes, you have to let her go.

    Don't nag her when she's gone a lot. Talk about how you feel--don't hide it--but when you just need to bitch, talk to a friend.
    It's hard on her too, and she'll come back tired. She'll leave during Christmas because some drunk ran into a telephone pole or Mrs. Next-Door set her turkey on fire. She'll leave at midnight and again at three AM, and still go to work the next day.

    She'll leave a lot. But you know what? She'll come home.

    There's good advice on this thread, especially
    No scanners in the house. Not for him, not for you. None.
    He will be gone a lot. When he's home, it is family time; you, him and any family you may have. Draw the line. Right now.
    The truth is that it is hard, and that in the end you can only do two things. Pray, and trust her.

  15. #15
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    Here's another thought process... Much like a teenager, you can either support her and she'll open-up to you and when she needs to talk remember God gave ya' all (2) ears and (1) mouth. When she's "venting" don't try and fix it, unless she asks for help or advice then don't offer it. That's gonna be difficult, trust me. My wife's a RN in labor and delivery/post pardum and often when she has a "bad baby, bad patient, etc." I'm her "sounding board." If you don't, she'll work the Job and keep you outside emotionally and find somebody else to be her "sounding board." You'll never know when things are good and will mostly find out when things are bad by her "biting your head-off." If she asks for advice and you don't know, then tell her that it'll show that you respect what she's going through and will also be 100% honest with her.
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    Plug yourself into a Spousal Support Program, like you have done here. This is a great start. Feel free to get the emails, cell phones, home phone numbers of the wives/husbands of folks she works with. You can also do the same with folks at church, social clubs, the gym or whatever social functions ya' all attend. If you're gonna go this route though, tell her in advance or get them while she's standing there so that she understands and knows what's going on. Remember, keep it positive with her.....
    louis vuitton handbags
    This truly is the best Job in the world..... Plan a huge party when she makes her 1st grab and she'll never forget it. It'll show her that you respect the positive part of her Job, allows her to brag a bit and also will help you to feel proud of what she does.

  16. #16
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    I have a question and it seems like this might be the appropriate area since were are talking marriage and family. I have worked nights and weekends for the past 10 years of marriage in retail and I'm now pursuing my original goal of Firefighting. My wife has concerns about the schedule and time off with family and those types of things. What should I expect as a rookie Firefighter as far as a schedule. Will I have the same days off ever week? Does it rotate or do I get the crap schedule as a rookie? Will I have weekends off once and a while or one of the days. I've never really heard anyone talk about the shirts other then 24 and 48. LA county is the department I'm trying to get on with if that info helps. Thanks

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    Cool

    LA county is the department I'm trying to get on with if that info helps.
    Good luck with that..... Last I heard they have suspended their next Towers due to "the all mighty buck."

    From the many people that I know at L.A. County, your schedule is not going to be different just because you're a Rookie. You'll be assigned a House, Crew and Shift. You'll work what days you're scheduled to work, plus any OT that comes your way (as a Rookie, don't let the Senior FFs get forced..... Bad Joo Joo). As far as weekends and holidays go, if you're scheduled to work them then plan ahead historically you'll get a Shift Calendar the full year. Kinda cool to celebrate holidays on different days and have "weekends" during the weekdays. Working (10) days a month or so means lots of days off with family and friends. My suggestion is to have your wife talk to a FF who has a good family life (happy wife, happy kids, etc) and bounce her questions and concerns of them.

    L.A. County is a great Department..... Family atmosphere, run lots of various types of fires/emergencies, great pay, great retirement and so on. They also have a great support system, try and get plugged-into it for yourself and your wife. Again, just my .02.....

    Welcome to the JOB.....
    "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

    Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

    Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....

  18. #18
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    Here is an article that my wife wrote. I think you will enjoy it.....

    Firefighting: A Wife’s Perspective
    By Marian Lepore
    From the beginning of our relationship, I knew this would be different. We
    could only see each other on red and green days and I could only call him at
    work after 9 a.m. or before 9 p.m. and never at mealtime. No one warned me
    what it would be like to date a firefighter.

    After I met his family, I was introduced to his firefighter family – the three
    crewmembers he spent ten 24-hour shifts with each month. They knew
    everything about me. I came to realize that I would have to be willing to share
    him with his coworkers, both on and off duty.

    It didn’t take long for me to learn the peculiarities of fire department
    etiquette. When I visited the fire station for the first time, I had to bring a pie.
    In fact, whenever a firefighter does something for the first time, whether it’s
    buying a house, being mentioned in the news, or having a child, he or she
    must bring ice cream for the crew.

    On birthdays, firefighters bring in their own cake. When they get promoted
    or reassigned to a new station, they cook their own farewell meal for their
    coworkers. It became evident to me that firefighters are more comfortable
    serving others than being served.

    When we became more serious in our relationship and eventually married,
    the church and reception hall were filled with firefighters and their families.
    The happiness of one was celebrated joyously with the rest (of course, after
    all the jokes of bringing running shoes for the groom). The birth of children,
    purchase of a home, or completion of a college degree is all celebrated as if
    it were close family members achieving these successes.

    I could see that firefighters are bonded in a special way. They spend 24
    hours at a time together, which is much more time than most family members
    spend with each other. They work together for a single purpose, whether it’s
    to save a life, put out the flames in a burning building, or educate children
    in fire safety. They must be willing to risk their lives for each other without
    hesitation.

    Firefighters take care of each other. If one is going through a divorce, tives
    he or she is counseled, supported and encouraged. If another is having
    difficulties with a rebellious teenager, many others can offer advice from their
    own experiences as parents. When a firefighter is trying to promote, he or
    she may carefully choose the next station assignment knowing that a certain
    crewmember will help with oral interviews or fire simulator problems.

    When I first started dating my husband, I couldn’t believe that a 23-year-old
    could own a home. He later explained that when he first started on the fire
    department, an older firefighter sat down with him and educated him on the
    importance of saving for and purchasing a home. He also taught him about
    deferred compensation and how important it is to maximize his contributions
    from the very beginning. Thanks to the wisdom and caring of this older
    firefighter and the magic of compounded interest for investments, my husband
    and I both maximized our retirement savings (his deferred comp, my 401K)
    and we will retire comfortably.

    My husband has carried on this tradition of helping new recruits by educating
    them on financial investments and deferred compensation. Firefighters look
    out for each other in every way.

    Everything in the fire service is done in a big way. The Long Beach Fire
    Department has the biggest grill I have ever seen. It is built on wheels and is
    towed behind a truck. I would have thought it was ridiculous if I hadn’t seen
    that every spot on the grill was being used. This grill is used for graduation
    ceremonies, department picnics, fund-raisers and all types of community
    events. Only a firefighter could have dreamed up that grill!

    When a firefighter cooks, he or she cooks in a big way. It doesn’t seem
    to matter if it is a large station with several engine companies and rigs, or a
    station with a single engine company and a crew of four. There are always at
    least two refrigerators at the station to hold all the leftovers. When my husband
    is at home, he carries on the tradition and cooks enough to feed an army. I
    also have two refrigerators in my home.

    Maybe firefighters are just trained to think in a big way. But along with big
    ladders and big trucks come big responsibilities. When I was dating my future husband, I was a student in the physical therapy program at California State University, Long Beach. I was taking anatomy and physiology classes and was interested in the medical side of his job. He was still a paramedic at that time and had not yet promoted to captain. He suggested that I ride along with him to see what he did. The television
    show ER didn’t hold a candle to the real life drama I witnessed.

    It was pretty slow (he thought) and I accompanied him on calls responding
    to SOB (shortness of breath) and a drug overdose. We were just sitting down
    to an elaborate Mexican dinner, when another call came in. It was reported as
    a man down, gunshots heard. The crew responded immediately to the call.
    When the paramedic rig and the fire engine arrived, there was a large,
    angry crowd gathered. The police had not yet arrived, so it was not known
    whether the assailant was still present in the crowd or had left. The victim was
    not even visible through the crowd. The captain, who always looks out for his
    crew, ensured that the police arrived to control the crowd and clear the area.
    The victim was a teenage boy with a gunshot wound to the chest.
    He was hooked up to an EKG machine, given an IV for fluid and other
    medications and the bleeding controlled as well as possible in the field. They
    kept in constant communication with doctors in the ER, so the medical staff
    could give further instructions and was fully prepared for him when he arrived.
    Every crewmember was needed, whether it was to take vital signs, control
    bleeding, administer medication, fetch equipment, use the radio, or interview
    family members. I was in awe of how efficiently this team could work, with a
    critical victim in the field, poor lighting, a large, noisy crowd and possibly an
    assailant who did not want this victim to survive.

    The victim was rapidly transported to the ER, where the paramedic team
    was integrated into the hospital’s response and they worked together to try
    to save this boy’s life. Within minutes his chest was cracked open and there
    was the largest pool of blood I could imagine beneath the gurney. Even with
    CPR, repeated administration of cardiac medications, defibrillation, IV fluids,
    intubation and other intensive efforts, they could not save his life. The bullet
    had nicked his aorta and he had lost too much blood.

    His family was in the waiting room. His mother became hysterical and his
    brother vowed revenge for this gang-related shooting. The crew returned to the
    station to finish dinner and prepare for the next call. This experience will remain
    vivid in my memory for the rest of my life. For the crew, it was just another day
    on the job. They felt compassion for the victim and his family, but they could
    not be overwhelmed by it, or they would not be able to continue working.
    Along with the intensity of responding to critical emergencies and the
    danger of entering burning buildings, there can be unexpected dangers. In
    1992, after the verdict in the Rodney King beating was announced, Los Angeles
    County went crazy. There was rioting throughout the streets. People were
    burning down buildings, beating total strangers and looting stores. It was out
    of control.

    People were so angry that they were shooting at anyone in authority,
    including firefighters. As if the job were not dangerous enough! There was
    one incident that my husband only told me about years later and it was only
    after a coworker casually referred to it. A call came into the station that a strip
    mall was on fire. Due to reports of firefighters being shot at and threatened by
    crowds, they were supposed to wait for the police to show up and accompany
    them to the scene. The police were busy elsewhere, as you can imagine, so
    the fire department responded anyway. Just as they were finishing, they were
    shot at and had to take cover behind the fire truck. They managed to get into
    the truck safely and quickly left the scene. As they left, they could see the
    arsonists leaving their hiding place to prepare to burn the buildings again.
    The Los Angeles riots put the fire service to the test.
    rspectives
    Sure enough, shortly after returning to the station they were called out
    again to the strip mall. This time they put on their flak jackets and waited for
    the police to accompany them on the call. They put out the fire in what was
    left of the mall. That was the longest night of my life and I didn’t even know
    how truly bad it was until later.
    Spouses of firefighters also support each other. Whether it is by getting
    together for Bunco monthly, taking care of each other’s kids, or just chatting
    over a cup of coffee, it is important to share any concerns with others who
    understand. Marriage can be challenging enough for couples who work
    Monday through Friday from nine to five. Add the stress of dealing with an
    always changing work schedule, a dangerous environment and the need to
    be completely self-sufficient, and it can be disastrous for a marriage. The best
    way to cope is to maintain your sense of humor.

    Humor and laughter is an integral part of fire station life. My husband brings
    home stories of outrageous deeds and unbelievable wit nearly every shift. If
    late night talk show hosts need new material or writers, they could do no better
    than some of the creative minds on the fire department. Especially funny
    stories of practical jokes or extreme composure after being water-dropped
    become urban legends.

    When I was dating my husband and planning to visit him at the fire station
    for the first time, he warned me to look up before I entered the station. He
    said that sometimes first-time visitors were water-dropped when they entered
    the station house. I had no idea what he was talking about. These were
    adults. He must be joking. Well, I was lucky that my ignorance did not get me
    into trouble. I remained dry throughout that first visit. It was only later that I
    realized he was not joking.

    I realized immediately that it is not only the firefighters who have to have a
    good sense of humor. During our wedding ceremony, our exchange of vows
    was delayed by several minutes as the blaring of a siren just outside the church
    doors drowned out the minister’s words. Later at the reception, one of the
    layers of cake looked odd to me. When I investigated, I found the inside of
    the cake had been hollowed out, filled with paper towels and then recovered
    with frosting. When I turned to my new husband in shock, he just shrugged
    as if to say, “Of course they cored the cake.”
    tives
    The practical jokes continued at home. Our children learned the hard way
    that they had to learn to laugh in the face of disaster. Of course, a child’s idea
    of disaster is not exactly the same as an adult’s. When our oldest daughter
    was in elementary school, she worked hard to complete a ‘book float,’ which
    is a visual book report built on the top of a shoebox. Her book float was
    elaborate, with trees made of broccoli tops glued to the shoebox. When she
    was getting ready to go to school the next morning, she found that all of her
    ‘trees’ had been chopped down! Her father had eaten the tops of the broccoli
    that morning before he left for work. He thought it was a hilarious joke. She
    did not feel that way. After many tears and an emergency session with a glue
    gun, she finally began to see the humor in the situation.

    Our youngest daughter found that she had to be on guard at all times. One
    day when she was watching her favorite TV show, she became frantic because
    the TV kept changing channels all by itself. Her father finally confessed that
    he was using the master remote control from a distance. Now I find that I
    am the one who needs to stay on her toes in our house. Our children have
    learned the hard way to give as well as they got.

    Without a sense of humor, a ready joke and the ability to see the bright side
    of things, the tragedy firefighters encounter every shift would soon overwhelm
    them. It is a coping mechanism to help deal with the seriousness of the job.
    If a firefighter candidate cannot laugh easily and often at him or herself, the
    candidate will either not succeed, or will not be happy on the job. He or she
    will never understand the culture of the fire service.

    After my husband was in a terrible head-on collision between the engine
    he was on and a police cruiser, he was out of work for several months. He
    fought to return to work full duty. I think the fire service must be one of the
    only professions in which its members enjoy the job so much they will not
    consider an alternative.

    My husband shows up at the station 45 minutes before the start of his
    shift, just in case he can take a call for the captain coming off duty and allow
    him to leave work on time. When my husband is going off duty, he stays to
    share a cup of coffee and some laughs with the oncoming crew. I know of no
    other profession in which its members are not in a hurry to leave after their
    shift is over.
    Perspectives
    So why do so many people dream of becoming firefighters?
    The fire department schedule is one of the biggest draws to the job. There
    is no other job in which you can work only ten days a month, with either six or
    four days off at a time. The problem is that when my husband wants to go on
    vacation, he doesn’t understand that I can’t match his schedule and just take off
    four or six days at a time. At least I know his schedule a year in advance!
    Because their schedules are so different from everyone else’s, firefighters
    like to vacation together. It is common to see large groups of firefighter families
    on vacation in Hawaii, Baja, or Lake Havasu. It’s also convenient to share the
    childcare duties with other parents.

    Firefighters generally enjoy their work schedule, but it can be hard on a
    family and marriage. Spouses must be self-sufficient and prepared to take
    care of crises on their own. If a firefighter’s child is sick, he or she cannot just
    leave the station to pick up the child from school. It is critical that the firefighter
    remain at work to keep the station fully staffed for emergencies. If a firefighter
    goes home, it must be for a serious injury or illness.

    The firefighter schedule can also be inconvenient on holidays. Most people
    are used to spending holidays with their family. Firefighters don’t have a choice.
    If they are scheduled to work on a holiday, they work. Unless they are going out
    of town, they do not request the day off. Everyone would love to have holidays
    off to spend with his or her family, but someone must work. If they were to call
    in sick and no one was signed up to work overtime, another firefighter would
    be force hired and pulled out of a family gathering. A firefighter spouse must
    be flexible enough to be prepared to cook and entertain all by him or herself
    at a moment’s notice.

    It is expected that the younger firefighters without families offer to work on
    major holidays. As they get older and have their own families, the favor will
    be repaid by the next generation of firefighters.

    When a firefighter is scheduled to work on a major holiday, the family
    members are often invited into the station for a holiday meal. The crew will
    go all out and prepare a lavish feast. Sometimes the family members end up
    eating all by themselves as the crew is called out on an emergency. The kids
    don’t mind. They feel that the more time in the station, the better. Again, it
    just goes with the job.
    ectives
    Because they work a set schedule regardless of holidays, firefighters get
    time off which includes both vacation and holidays. When they take time off, it
    is usually for several weeks at a time. I have found that having your husband
    on vacation can be worse than having your kids out of school for the summer.
    A firefighter with too much time on his hands can get into much more trouble
    than your kids.

    Firefighters are generally do-it-yourselfers. This is why you will often
    see them in Home Depot. They are mechanically inclined and are used to
    improvising to solve problems quickly. You may come home from work one
    day and find that you have a new laundry chute or the washing machine is
    being rebuilt. If you are someone who likes things done a certain way, then
    for the sake of marital harmony, I suggest you call a professional out to build,
    repair, or replace whatever it is before your husband’s next vacation, four or
    six day.

    Most of us go on vacation to get away from our jobs. When my husband
    is on vacation, he seeks out fire stations. I have gotten used to losing my
    husband for a few hours during a vacation while he rides along with the local
    fire department. Of course he is hoping to go on a really ‘good’ call (which to
    the rest of us means ‘bad’).

    My husband has T-shirts from fire departments in Alaska, Illinois, Louisiana,
    Nevada, Texas, Washington, Washington, D.C., Utah and many more. I’m
    almost embarrassed to say that I even visited a fire station on my own when I
    recently went to New York City. When my husband sees someone wearing a
    fire department T-shirt, he will always ask that person if he or she is on the job.
    There is an instant bond between them, to the point that two total strangers
    can joke and tease each other about their respective departments.
    Another advantage about the fire department is the benefits. There are
    usually many options for medical and dental plans, so you can pick the plan
    that is right for you whether you are single or married with a family. The credit
    union can’t be beat. They give personalized service and actually know your
    name when you call.

    One of the biggest benefits is the retirement package. It is negotiated
    as part of the firefighters’ contract. Unfortunately, the life expectancy of a
    firefighter after retirement is not as long as that of a person who has not been
    exposed to smoke, chemicals, stress, blood, injury and interrupted sleep for
    their entire professional career.

    Depending on their age when they were hired, firefighters usually retire in
    their fifties. However, they will not be bored after retirement. Most firefighters
    have hobbies which take up a great deal of their time, such as skiing, fishing,
    boating, fishing, traveling, fishing, or biking. When I was dating my future
    husband, he said he liked to fish. I was thinking that in Southern California,
    it’s only fishing season in the summer. No big deal, maybe I would even go
    with him sometimes. It was only later that I realized that it is always fishing
    season somewhere in the world. I should have been forewarned when he had
    to check his fishing tide book before committing to a wedding date.
    Every firefighter has a side business. This business is not reserved
    for after retirement. They conduct this business throughout their fire
    service career. Since they work only ten days a month, there is plenty of
    time off to do carpentry, plumbing, concrete, tile setting, painting, roofing,
    CPR instruction, writing, or manage whatever business they have invested
    in. The advantage to other firefighters (and their wives) is that whenever
    something needs to be fixed at home, there is always a firefighter with
    the skills to do it. Forget paying full price to a plumber, electrician, or
    drywaller! By trading skills and services, most firefighters are able to remodel
    and upgrade their homes.

    Firefighters earn a good salary and are rarely ever laid off. Overtime
    shifts also help immensely. However, I don’t know if you can truly compensate
    someone for the long-term effects of a chemical fire, or the emotional
    scars from being first on scene at a horrendous child abuse incident. Firefighters
    seldom talk about the really terrible things they witness, but we all know
    we can count on them when we’re in trouble.

    People love firefighters. Children and even some adults wave at them
    as they drive by on their big trucks. When others accompany a firefighter,
    even off duty, the benefits often extend to them. After the Southern
    California wildfires, Disneyland in Anaheim was offering free admission for
    firefighters and their families as a thank you. We invited our neighbors to
    go with us. I am a physical therapist, my neighbor is a teacher and her
    husband is a computer consultant. None of us has ever been admitted toerspectives
    an amusement park for free just because of our profession. Firefighters,
    however, are universally loved, appreciated and welcomed.
    It may seem to outside observers that firefighters all look similar: tall,
    lean, dark hair and a moustache. Well, departments have changed over
    the years as they seek greater diversity, skills and strengths. They try to
    hire firefighters who can relate to and speak the languages of the people in
    the community. They hire female firefighters who can contribute their abilities
    and perspective to the department. They even hired my husband despite
    the fact that he cannot grow a decent moustache.

    Maybe one reason that firefighters seem so alike is that they have the
    same attitudes. They are honest, brave (you wouldn’t catch me running
    into a burning building) and exceedingly generous with their time and talents.
    When they take the time to tutor children, fix up a dilapidated house in
    the neighborhood, or collect and hand out Christmas gifts to disadvantaged
    children, it is all on their own time. Their spirit of public service is an example
    that should humble the rest of us. I can’t resent the time my husband
    takes to help others, because it is part of who he is. Our youngest daughter
    had a wonderful time one Christmas when she was able to help hand out
    donated gifts and ride with Santa in his sleigh atop a fire truck.
    I have wondered how the fire department manages to hire so many
    people with the same attitudes. I guess it is because they know what they
    are looking for. The selflessness and willingness to sacrifice can’t be taught.
    It must be an integral part of their makeup. When a firefighter or family member
    is seriously ill, others will line up to cover his or her shifts with no expectation
    of being repaid for their time.

    As a spouse, I will never understand my husband’s excitement when he
    is called on to spend days fighting a raging wildfire, or enthusiastically
    describes in vivid detail the fire that ripped through the chemical warehouse.
    But his coworkers understand. They will always be there for him, working
    towards the same goal and watching his back. I count on them to do that.
    The fire service is a very large, caring, fun-loving family, of which I am proud
    to be an extended member. I know that even if my husband is lost at sea during
    one of his many Baja fishing trips, or something unthinkable happens during
    one of his calls at work, my children and I will always be taken care of.

    Paul Lepore
    Division Chief
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber
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    Cool

    Great share Chief.....
    "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

    Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

    Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....

  20. #20
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    Last edited by Iessthename; 09-28-2010 at 01:51 PM.

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