01-19-2004, 11:23 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jan 2004
Burnout in the Volunteer Fire Service
I recently expericened what I consider "burnout" after 23 years of service. I am interested in thoughts of others who have dealt with this. It,s hard to leave somthing you feel so strong about. I figured with this many FF's around I might get some opinions & insight on this. Thanks
01-19-2004, 11:44 PM #2
I work for a paid department and was having some of the same feelings a while back. I talked with my DC about it. He changed the station assignments and put me with a couple of the new guys. Soon after I got a newly promoted, highly motivated Lt. Trying to keep up got my juices flowing again.
I understand that a volunteer department doesnt operate the same as paid as far as always working with the same crew so that probably wont work the same for you. So perhaps a little break is is in order. If your department will allow it, take six months off. Then, if you still feel the same way, it may be time to hang it up.
01-20-2004, 12:17 AM #3
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
Does your FD have a leave of absence policy? If so maybe your first step would be to take a leave of absence and just get away from it for a while. Step back and recoup and give the whole thing some thought.
I think at times we all feel the way you do. The difference is this though, is it really time to step down and leave or do we just need some time to rejuvenate ourselves? I have backed away a couple of times when I was wondering if it was time to leave and have come back with new energy. On the other hand a very good friend of mine was a Chief in his volly FD and he walked away completely about 2 years ago. The change in his personality and demeanor are very dramatic. He is much more relaxed, much more available to his family and doesn't seem to mis it really much at all.
Which one is you? Do you need to rejuvenate or do you need to just say that's it it's time to leave? Only you know the answer to that.
01-20-2004, 12:29 AM #4
WEll I have been in the FS now almost 21 years though it seems like yesterday I just started in this line of work. I have been Everything from a Wildland Firefighter to a City Fire Chief and now am a Firefighter/EMT Tailboarder. We wont get into the bolts and nuts of my career path, but yes I have experianced burnout and am not near as motivated as I use to be in years past.
I think this is actually part of my problem with repromoting in my current Employer since it was soo much work to get there I just have already been there and done that.
I have a new crew right now and kinda a new job position so im a little newley motivated in this work at the moment. I think things will be ok once we all get thru the self pitty parties and for me, if I do get too burned out, ill just leave and start something new and exciting for me.
Life is fun and the Fire Service is and has been a great way to go.Front line since 1983 and still going strong
01-20-2004, 04:07 AM #5
I have been Vol FireFighter for 21 years. Witnessed alot including;death,rekindles,bad weather,no sleep, you know the things that make you wonder "Why am I here?" and I never thought about getting or being burnt out, I get tired of The political BS within but have not had a desire or urge to hang up my SCBA. I know one thing, I have a lot of certifications State and Federal but I would never or have never wanted to be a Paid FireFighter.
01-20-2004, 11:45 AM #6
- Join Date
- Nov 2000
Well, I've been doing this for a living for nearly 15 years now and I would have to say that anyone with a brain gets burned out from time to time...I have. It's only natural to feel that way, particularly after an exceptionally ugly incident or a series of them. It need not end your career or role as a volunteer. I would suggest talking to someone - does your department have a chaplain? Or if that won't work perhaps a friend/mentor in your dept. Some departments have an EAP program also.
It is in every departments best interest, paid and volunteer, to keep good, trained people in their ranks. But I will say this, if leaving is what it takes to give you back a life then after 23 years, you've done your fair share brother - go with your head held high.
01-20-2004, 12:27 PM #7
Me and Co firegal both expiericend burnouts over this summer. Her's was due to massive floodings and constant flood watches and seeing two children get swept away from in front of her in a flood and reocovering(NOT rescue) thier bodies down stream about 2 miles.Also the constant politics in her department wore away on her nerves.
My burnout came from training,details,fires,field trips------I was the chief of my post and the training officer in the other and due to training schedules and a all summer firefighter class and "field trips" and details I didnt have more than 3 days off from late June to early Sept.
We found the best way is to just step back and remeber the department can and will function with out you---and there will be another call!
Also after some real tragic stuff like she saw, it really helped to talk to a close friend to help cope with it. The thing that we both did was just say to ourselves we need a break and just tell everyone your takeing some time off and turn off the pager,scanner,radio and go out and enjoy some life---it worked for us.I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
01-21-2004, 01:07 AM #8
Take some time off for yourself. Personally, I'm not running in upcoming department Board elections this year. I'll let someone else take my duties for awhile. 2003 was a very stressful year and while i will keep my pager on, i don't plan on responding to anything but a working fire or wreck. I'm concentrating on other interests for the first half of this year and then will see how i feel this summer. I'm not quitting, just stepping back a bit and letting the small stuff go.
01-21-2004, 02:31 AM #9
- Join Date
- Oct 2003
- lookin for da heat
I've experienced burnout do to the normal causes. I have taken time out. Our dept. has a leave of abscence policy. After awhile I began to miss it and returned with a great outlook. Do what your head and heart tells you. Only those in the fire service know what 21 years of service can do to a person. Good luck with your decision and never be ashamed what ever it is.
01-21-2004, 01:36 PM #10
- Join Date
- Apr 2003
VoluntFFEMT, There are several reasons to think things over that I can name through my 32 years as a volley ff/emt. First off, we put in a lot of time doing things we feel we need to because someone has to. Sometimes we feel that things are not going to happen unless we make it that way. We then suffer with family and friends as well as with our jobs. Not fair, but that is the mentality most of us that do it for the right reasons have, like it or not.
Then there is that fact, that we see to darn much sometimes. We see families lost through fires or accidents. Whole families. We see there lives destroyed through the same incidents, and we see our own families suffer as well if we are in it long enough. From 100 year old people to the babies we are usually the first there when they lose their life in ways only combat vets can understand.
If that is not enough of a problem, we then have the popularity contest in our officers elections and such, that we tolerate through the years also. Taking part in events we do not really believe in but it is our job.
Then getting up whenever the call comes in no matter what the call is, no matter what day or time it is. And we have to pay to do all this fun stuff.
The biggest problem where burn out comes from is the fact that most of us have no relief, or avenues to talk and open up to someone. If your department is that lucky to have a system in place to discuss certin calls, take the advanage because it has helped me in the past.
But, it is o.k. to feel human though cause we are just that. |No matter how hard we think we are, we do have feelings, and sometimes we need to take a look at ourselves and ask what it is all about. But if you need the time off, take it and find yourself again.
Whatever you decide to do, THis guy is proud to have had you serving our country as a volley. Good luck in your life in the fire service or out of it either way.
01-21-2004, 11:17 PM #11
- Join Date
- Jan 2004
Thanks for all the responses to my post about "burnout" in the fire service. It seems that I might just be normal!HA! What FF/EMT is normal. I found it interesting that in the fire service, no matter what part of the country we are from, we all go thru simular sitiuations in our departments. I believe ya'll confirmed what I all ready knew I had to do. The calls were never the problem & we do have CSID avaiable. Being from a small community,the chances of knowing the family involved in the incident was pretty good. I found that this was usually comforting to the family. But, over the last couple of years the political bs seemed to be increasing. Oh well, such is the life of the firefighter. I did resign as Assnt Chief & from the board & I took a leave of absent until July. After that I will make my final decision. It will probably tug at my heart to go when I hear the howl of the siren on the BRT (Big Red Truck)as my buddies respond to the call.But , I'll just probably just go out in the yard & howl with it! Thanks for the insight.
Vollie from Louisiana.
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