He's starting a very rigorous academy soon, and while we've been through orientation and heard what his captain has had to say- I'd love some ideas from the career guys here. If you went though a very rough academy, how did your wife best support you? We've already been through a lot while getting here- including him working 48s while in paramedic school full time. He wasn't home at all and was under a lot of stress. So I do feel a little like "how much worse could it be?"
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06-11-2011, 09:08 PM #1
- Join Date
- May 2011
My husband is a new hire/recruit
06-11-2011, 09:13 PM #2
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
Sounds like you are ready
How long is the school???
Will be more physical. So have some massage appointments set up
Basically plan like he is not even in town
Once he gets on shift then you can resume somewhat of a normal life
06-11-2011, 09:21 PM #3
- Join Date
- May 2011
It's 12 or so weeks. I feel like we're ready. He went through another academy as part of his degree, to get his I and II, etc. And I know this one will be a lot tougher physically. But getting to the point of being hired anywhere is incredibly hard and takes a lot of work and sacrifice. This seems like just one more step, not the complete lifestyle devastation his department has made it out to be.
06-11-2011, 09:32 PM #4
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
12 weeks and a new job and somewhat normal life
Way to sticking all together for the goal
06-11-2011, 09:51 PM #5
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
Do you mind saying what state your are in?????
06-11-2011, 10:00 PM #6
The best thing I recommend is give him plenty of space. By that I mean he'll be busy while he's gone and when he comes home he'll have studying to do till late. Then it's the same routine during the week. Then on weekends he might meet up with other recruits and work on different things. What I'm trying to say is he'll be busy. Just being there for support is a great help.....dinner ready when he's ready.....as so on. I hope this will help as it did when I went through Drill School for 12 weeks.....Respectfully,
Lifetime Member CSFA
IAFF Alumni Member
06-11-2011, 10:00 PM #7
- Join Date
- May 2011
Haha, not until he gets the badge. He'd shoot me. He says no talking about the hire publicly until he finishes academy. "Anyone could be reading."
06-11-2011, 11:23 PM #8
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
06-12-2011, 12:06 AM #9
- Join Date
- Aug 2007
- Tucson, Arizona
Well, it sounds really old-fashioned but what helped was making sure that every night there was a good meal on the table. It didn't have to be fancy, but it was always nutritious and ready once he came home. They will do a lot of physical activity and will be very hungry when they get home.
It helped that we both had fire certs at the time (and I was working as an EMT 12 hour shifts but thankfully was able to be home when he was) so I could help him study.
Also just be nice. Don't nag (I had a hard time with that one lol) ask him how his day went and just try to be encouraging. Massages are good, but I found they are much more appreciated if it's from the wife
06-12-2011, 12:35 AM #10
- Join Date
- Sep 2005
Make sure he EATS...lots...
And now is not the time for the primal diet, south beach diet, engine 2 diet, or make my rear end and abs look nice diet...it' seafood diet time...see food, eat it. Lots of it. Plenty of protein. And ice cream. If the academy is rigorous he'll be burning tons of energy and will need to calories for performance and recovery.
Last edited by powerhourcoug; 06-12-2011 at 12:38 AM.
06-12-2011, 01:01 AM #11
- Join Date
- May 2011
Okay. So lots of food, no nagging, lots of space, massages, and 0 expectations of help around the house or w/kids. No problem. Any other insights?
06-12-2011, 01:51 AM #12
06-12-2011, 02:10 AM #13
- Join Date
- Sep 2008
First of all... congratulations to your husband. I know it can be a long road to the academy and am sure he is very excited, anxious, nervous, etc. Secondly, if he has a wife that cares enough to do her own "research" than he is a very lucky man.
The academy is very tough mentally and physically, as that is how it is meant to be. If he is squared away, dedicates himself, and listens closely than he will have no problem. All you need to do is be there for him. The rules are simple: study hard, eat right, get a good night's sleep, listen to the instructors and , oh yeah, don't do anything stupid like getting hurt.
As far as what you can do. In a nutshell, be supportive and understand this will be the hardest part of this career (to some degree). You can help him by maybe making his lunch, doing his laundry, offering your place for him to invite fellow probies to study, brush up on skills and vent about the academy. You could also maybe help him study by quizzing him on his index cards.
Best of luck to both of you. Everything will be fine. If he runs into trouble, tell him to ask for help. Keep us posted!
06-12-2011, 09:43 AM #14
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
Congratulations to both of you. He never would have been hired without your support. The following is an article written by my wife. I believe it will answer many of your questions. i hope you enjoy it. I know she had fun writing it.
Reprinted from The Aspiring Firefighterís Two Year Plan
Firefighting: A Wifeís 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 Ė 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 didnít 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 itís
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 itís
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
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 couldnít 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 hadnít 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 doesnít 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 didnít 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 hospitalís response and they worked together to try
to save this boyís 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
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.
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 didnít 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 otherís 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 ministerís 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, ďOf course they cored the cake.Ē
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 childís idea
of disaster is not exactly the same as an adultís. When our oldest daughter
was in elementary school, she worked hard to complete a Ďbook float,í 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
Ďtreesí 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.
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 doesnít understand that I canít 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 elseís, firefighters
like to vacation together. It is common to see large groups of firefighter families
on vacation in Hawaii, Baja, or Lake Havasu. Itís 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 firefighterís 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 donít 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 momentís 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
donít 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 husbandís next vacation, four or
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 Ďgoodí call (which to
the rest of us means Ďbadí).
My husband has T-shirts from fire departments in Alaska, Illinois, Louisiana,
Nevada, Texas, Washington, Washington, D.C., Utah and many more. Iím
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 canít 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 firefightersí 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,
itís 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 donít 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 weíre 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 wouldnít 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 canít 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 canít 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 husbandís 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
06-12-2011, 12:00 PM #15
- Join Date
- May 2011
Thanks for the insight everyone!
Nope, no sisters. lol.
I really enjoyed that article, thank you for posting it!
The fire culture is all going to be new to us. Neither of us come from fire/ems families, and while we've been working toward this for a few years, we have no first hand experience with the community you describe. I'm so excited! Well, of course, once he earns it.
So lunches... any ideas there? No fridge and no microwave for recruits, but they prefer you to stay at station during academy. So sandwiches. But any other ideas to switch it up? I think that'll get old fast. And hopefully something I can prepare the night before, b/c getting up daily at 5:30a sounds terrible. But maybe I should be getting up each morning anyway to see him off? Input? He won't eat breakfast right before pt, so it wouldn't be to make him eggs.
06-12-2011, 01:46 PM #16
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
That seems stance no cooler
I guess they can take a smaller ice cooler
Maybe cold pasta dishes like pasta salad
Anything he likes cold like fried chicken baked chicken BBQ chicken
Burritos with different fillings
Now you are going to have to do a weekly update
06-12-2011, 05:50 PM #17
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
Candidates know they must pass all segments of the academy program or they will not move forward. It continues through probation. Most men attach their self-worth with their job. As you know it was not easy to get where he is now.
Itís been said that itís tough getting this job. It can be tough keeping it going through the academy and probation. This can put a lot of stress on the family. Keep the faith.
Consider including some energy bars, a mix of nuts, etc as snacks.
Check you PM and e-mail.______________________________ _______________
"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"
Fire "Captain Bob"
06-12-2011, 09:31 PM #18
- Join Date
- May 2011
A cooler or insulated lunch box is a great idea! I make a mean BBQ chicken pizza, so maybe that'll be good cold. And I bet I could likewise find an insulated sleeve to keep burritos warm. Or pasta. And the energy bars are a great idea. Thanks guys!
CaptBob- you've got mail!
06-12-2011, 10:56 PM #19
- Join Date
- May 2009
Clif bars are great...also consider some pre and post-workout supplements as they seemed to work for me during my academy. Getting to bed at a good time is very important when he's getting up at 0430
06-12-2011, 11:08 PM #20
- Join Date
- May 2011
It's so great to see you over here at this forum. We found your website before my husband took his oral board, and the information there was invaluable. It's so cool that you responded to my thread, and are really the same guy! Funny enough, my husband probably owes getting this far to you. And I doubt he would have done it if it hadn't been from the information you provided on doing well in an oral board.
Thanks everyone for the insight. I'm feeling much more prepared to support my recruit!
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