4. She’s used to smelling smoke, not the cigarette kind, the house kind.
From her husband needing to shower after a call, to dirty turnouts, she knows what smoke smells like.
And she knows how to wash it out of the laundry. And she reminds her husband about his cancer risk (and secondary exposure) so everyone can stay clean and safe.
5. Her Firefighter carries her heart with him whenever he is on shift
Firewives have a few different ways of coping when their firefighter is gone. Some stay super busy so they don’t think about it, some are anxious the entire time, some listen to the scanner and follow the word of mouth forums to see what’s happening.
Hell, some of us Fire wives are just happy to watch what we want on Netflix and get the bed to ourselves.
However you deal, we know that we want our firefighter to stay safe.
6. Holidays, events, and days off are scheduled around shift days, Kelly days and trainings
Sure he has vacation time, but he also has to work. Sometimes Christmas is rescheduled, and some birthday’s are celebrated at the station. Special trips may be saved for times when theirs a swap available or a Kelley day.
Which is actually kinda cool, because some Firefighters are able to work more than one shift, or rotate shifts with their wife to care for the kids!
The cool thing about being in the Fire Life is the family aspect. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not as friendly as it used to be. But the more we branch out, make connections, and bring others into the fold, the more we can grow as a family!
The Fire department used to be HUGE on family. Family nights, family owned business, and taking care of each other. Then the drama set in, traditions changed (really, the country changed!) and things began to decline.
If we want to make things better, it starts with supporting ourselves (can’t love other if you don’t love yourself!) and supporting the other fire families around us.
That’s why it gives me great pleasure to highlight some awesome Firefighter Wife owned businesses! The cool thing about the internet and social media is that it brings together some people that you might not have met otherwise.
We also try to include them when we do gift guides (they tend to have the better gift ideas anyways!) so it’s a no brainer that one day they would get their own dedicated post.
Check out these awesome makers and seller and find some new and unique merchandise items.
If you are a firefighter wife that would like to be featured, connect with us!
You can find us on social media here or use the contact form to send us an email.
Why should you listen to what I have to say? It’s not something I’m proud to admit, but I share freely that both my husband and I have suffered through PTSD from different events over the years.
Now, as a Firefighter Wife whose dealt with her own problems, seeing her Firefighter struggle with PTSD and triggers both at work and at home can be overwhelming.
But there is power in getting honest, communicating and sharing about the struggles of PTSD, anxiety, depression, and fear. Which is what I hope to do in this series of posts that cover various aspects of PTSD and mental health and how it effects our first responders.
*** Please note- this is not medical advice, nor to I pretend to know everything about PTSD, mental health, or the education that medical professionals have. This is my personal experience with my family and the mental health professionals we have talked to over the years. I strongly encourage you to get help if you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD, suicidal thoughts, or you need help. For immediate issues, call 911.
What you need to know
There is no one size fits all when it comes to PTSD. I think if it were easy enough to solve with a few simple steps then it wouldn’t be much of a problem at all.
The first thing everyone needs to know, is that anyone can be effected by a traumatic event. Even one they weren’t directly part of.
Yes, it’s true and the events of September 11, 2001 are an example of a situation where people had (and still have) PTSD from an event they might have been a thousand miles away from.
And PTSD can build in layers. One event can lead to another. One event can trigger another.
Unfortunately PTSD is a multifaceted pain in the side. It can present in several ways, and it can be bottled up and ignored for many years. So let’s cover some of the basics that Firefighter Wives need to know for their spouses (and for themselves as well).
PTSD can show up in different ways
This is probably not what you want to hear.
But dealing with PTSD isn’t cut and dry, in fact, many different symptoms can show up as a result of dealing with stress and anxiety after a traumatic event.
Generally, the person experiencing the symptoms will have several types and they will typically last longer than a month. Some examples would be avoidance of triggers, reoccurrence of the event, and frightening thoughts. You can learn more about the categories here.
PTSD is linked to Suicide Risk
This is the cold hard truth, and my least favorite subject, but one I can’t help but talk about in case it save’s someone life.
When you have PTSD (diagnosed or undiagnosed) you have a higher risk of suicide.
We could talk statistics all day long- but at the most basic level, when you are struggling with your mind, some people view ending their life as a solution.
The issue with suicide is it causes a lot more problems than PTSD. It isn’t a cure, because the person is dead, when they could have been treated for their problems.
If you or a loved one is struggling, please reach out! Save a life.
(and we talk about treatments and cures for PTSD below!)
Throw out the calendar- PTSD is unpredictable
Sorry again, I just keep giving you the honest (yet shitty) news.
For those that have ever dealt with any form of post traumatic stress or anxiety have shown, it doesn’t matter what time of day or year, symptoms can show up.
This means that you can be sitting in your living room, reading a book, and flashbacks can occur.
Or you could have gone to bed totally happy and then you wake up in a rage of anger and frustration.
Crazily enough, sometimes those with PTSD can experience the same event later on and NOT have a problem, but driving through the chickfila drive thru can trigger it a month later.
It WILL impact your marriage
This is one of those unfortunate side effects of falling in love with a first responder.
Sometimes the work follows them home, and not in a good way.
I’m talking about the things that are big and small.
Like nightmares that wake you up in the middle of the night.
and random outburst of anger that make no sense, came out of nowhere, and aren’t related to anything you are doing right then.
And emotional avoidance, not being able to (or not willing ) to talk about what’s bothering them- even if it’s not related to work.
And a change in intimacy. Either wanted more than you can give or not wanting it at all. Or being totally hot and cold.
So if you have experience some of these (and many others) they can be part of the residual side effects of your Firefighter struggling with their PTSD.
The good news is that you can see right through it and make it a priority on your end to help your firefighter “feel the love” from you, as long as things haven’t gone towards abuse.
There is this stigma that those that have PTSD are crazy. or loco. or mental. or whatever negative word you can imagine that describes someone that doesn’t have control of their mind and they are a “problem to society”.
Yes, stress and anxiety can change your Firefighter into someone new, someone different, someone that might scare you at times. But in most cases, they are still sane.
If they ‘jump off the mental health deep end’ then it’s something else, like PTSD that has morphed into a dangerous depression/suicide. Or someone that has bottle up their PTSD so long that it has caused them to have other mental and physical problems.
The only crazy thing is when firefighters and their spouses DON’T seek help, because there is help. See below.
Great News- it IS treatable, it is manageable and it is curable
The best news is saved for last. Despite PTSD and anxiety causing a lot of issues for someone and their family, it doesnt always have to be this way.
There is no one size fits all, because each person has gone through their own unique traumatic experience(S). We don’t know what they’ve seen or had to deal with (or how many times they’ve had to deal with it!).
So when I say curable, I want you to understand that’s the best case scenario, the worst case scenario is that your First Responder learns how to manage the PTSD.
Both of those are good things.
What’s not good, is unchecked PTSD, because as we’ve looked at, it can morph into other mental and physical health issues and it can drive someone to take their life.
There are counseling options like various forms of psychotherapy, EFT, medications and natural options. For us personally, we’ve tried everything but medications, as the ones that were recommended had some side effects (like depression) that we felt might make the recover worse. That said, not all medications are bad, and you can talk to your health care provider about what options are good for you.
When should you seek help for your firefighter
As someone that loves a firefighter, you now know that PTSD is not one size fits all, and that it will impact you and your firefighter.
But when should you get involved?
Between you and your firefighter, you should get involved immediately. Be kind and loving and try to get through to them that they don’t have to be embarrassed or scared.
When should you get other people involved?
The cut and dry version of this is if you or your firefighters life is in danger- even if it’s just a weird comment about suicide or ‘why was I ever born’ type thing.
Other times you might want to get involved are when your Firefighter isn’t seeking help and it’s been a long enough time that it’s really impacting their health. Only you would know how long that time would be. The professionals recommend behavior that lasts longer than 30 days.
But if you feel like it’s a real problem, don’t wait 30 days to get help.
Things like reckless behavior, excessive drinking or drug abuse, a lack of sleep that causes personality change or poor decision making.
Basically, you need to get help ASAP if you question wether your firefighter can make good decisions while they are impaired from drinking or lack of sleep or emotions that are going haywire.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
And many firefighters consider PTSD a form of career suicide, so they may need some encouragement from you to seek help.
Being a Firefighter Wife has so many benefits, namely that you come with your own Firefighter. But when you are a new fire wife, there are some things that you need to know.
These little tidbits go by many names.
Advice- Survival Skills- Recommendations- Guidance- Words to the Wise
Whatever you want to call it, it’s information that the newer Firewife needs to know, for her sanity and the sake of her new marriage! Or engagement, because let’s just be honest, marriages look different in the 21st century.
Advice- Survival Skills- Recommendations- Guidance- Words to the Wise for the New Firefighter Wife
Tell Murphy to shove it
Do you know about Murphy? Murphy’s law is that things go wrong if you give them the chance.
Basically what happens is, your firefighter goes on shift, and then things go wrong. The dryer breaks, the keys get locked in the car and the dog gets out.
These are the days where you find out how strong you are as you try to manage everything that went wrong without your Firefighter- or maybe your Firefighter ended up having to come home because things got so bad (like that time a tree fell on my house while my husband was on shift and I was 37 weeks pregnant taking a nap- it’s a happy ending though!)
But you will not let Murphy win– tell Murphy to shove it and find a way to make the best of the shift day when everything goes wrong and you can’t depend on your firefighter.
Make sure you know who to call in case of emergency
This may seem like a no brainer but, do you know who to call in case of an emergency when your Firefighter is on shift and they aren’t answering their phone?
Obviously, most of us can call the office. But what about if it’s after hours?
You should have another shift mates number, or the lieutenant, or someone else that can be an emergency contact if something goes wrong.
Especially if you don’t live in the district where your husband works. If you can’t quickly drive to his job, you need several points of contact.
We aren’t inviting things to go wrong, but let’s be prepared for the worst case scenario so you can come out smelling like a rose.
Understand the importance of sleep
This is talked about, but really misunderstood in the fire service. Some people think that sleep has little to do with some of the issues firefighters face, and other people are hardcore about sleep.
What you need to know as a Firefighter wife is that sleep is important and will have a short and long term impact on your firefighter.
Short term it can cause irritability and some possible memory loss or confusion.
Long term it can lead to health issues and make any PTSD or depression worse.
Mix that with Firefighters love of coffee and energy stimulants and you have a recipe for disaster.
Our Husbands need sleep. Help him understand that and be patient with him when he hasn’t slept well in some time. He needs a break to recharge.
Being a Fire Wife, you find out just how flexible you really are.
Like I thought I was flexible, I understand that overtime happens and I’m thankful for extra training (because it keeps him safe!)
But you don’t realize how flexible you actually have to be.
Like those years where his shift days fall on all the holidays. Or the times where he ends up working your birthday two years in a row.
Or (true story) when he has to go to a mandatory unpaid 5 day 12 hour training or he looses his position, while you are home with a 7 day old and two other kids. <<I might still be a little bitter about that one.
Learn to be flexible, but also learn to communicate your needs and work hard on compromise.
Yes, send them to training, but let them know that they are wanted at home and you want them to take off some time soon so that they can relax with you.
Flexibility = Balance. Don’t be upset over every shift day, but also don’t let the fire dept. dictate your entire life.
It doesnt matter how long your Firefighter has been on the job, at a career or volunteer department.
There is ALWAYS some politicking going on.
If I didn’t know better, I would say that some of these firefighters are worse gossipers than the ladies at the nail salon.
Do yourself a favor and stay away from it, or if your firefighter wants to share, get the cliff notes version.
There’s like a running joke in the fire department.
On one hand there’s so much tradition that they don’t like to change. On the other hand they talk about change but many times it never happens.
If it’s not on paper, I don’t even like to talk about it with my husband!
Find something to do on Shift Days
You need to be able to have something that is familiar to do on shift days, especially when you might be feeling lonely.
Some wives save their Netflix binge for shift days, others do special work outs or hang out with the friends.
I started blogging on shift days. Mostly because the nights were so lonely, I needed an outlet and something that was stimulating. You can check out my blogging resources if you’ve always wanted to start one and didnt know how!
Firefighter Wives need gifts too! From fun to practical and with plenty of ideas, you’re bound to find a gift idea here.
For many wives, they feel that firefighting is a career, and not an identity– so the work stuff gets left at the door. That’s why I’ve got two sections of ideas- one for firefighter stuff and one for generic gifts. You can pick which section your Firefighter Wife fits into!
This article may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you, read the disclosure here.
The Kids. The Dog. Maybe Just the Firewife and her Husband.
This are all great ideas for Firefighter Family Pictures and they would make an excellent gift (especially if you have family members that tend to scoff at photoshoots. Get them on board so you can bless your Firefighter Wife with pictures that she can cherish!) Check out this post on Firefighter Photoshoot Ideas to give you some inspiration!
Tumblers are all the rage right now. Seriously, most women have at least one of these adorable cups- if not more. Which makes them the perfect gift! They are practical, cute and they keep your drink cold. Plus, everyone is all about reducing waste and there’s no easier way to do that with a reusable tumbler (or 10 of them, because they get dirty or left in the car!)
Can Firefighter Wives have enough t-shirts? I think not. There are so many cute designs online, from Etsy to Amazon and Facebook Marketplace. Some of these are subtle and some more obvious, but they are all cute!
Get this thin red line Bestseller from Etsy! You can choose to have the front of your necklace customized with firefighter badge numbers, initials, date, heart, or anything else you would like up to 5 characters.
Lots of first responders and blue collar workers get placed on shift work. And while I love having my firefighter home for 48 hours after he works 24, those 24 hours that he works need all the help they can get!
Cue the easy instapot meals!
These instapot meals are great for the family that is at home during shift time, and the second family at work. I hope you find something that you love and becomes a new family favorite!
This article may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you, read the disclosure here.
Why I love my instapot
I won’t lie, I’ve had my instapot almost 4 years now, and I use it almost everyday.
It is the perfect rice cooker, the best mashed potatoes maker, and I can throw meat in the pot without worrying about burning it (plus it turns out tender, juicy and full of flavor!). plus, I can make yogurt and bread with a few additional accesories!
With my husband gone on shift and 3 kids at home, the instapot is our saving grace for a yummy meal without sacrificing time to stand in the kitchen and mind the stove!
The instapot is the perfect addition to the work kitchen
Modern pressure cookers are amazing, especially when you dont have a lot of time! That is why all work kitchen should have a version of the instapot.
They can whip up yummy meals in under half an hour and not have to stand in the kitchen to make it!
And while I don’t advertise that you should leave the instapot unattended- if you did forget because you had a call in the middle of making dinner, chances are that it would not catch fire due to modern safety features. Which is a big plus, because people set their kitchens on fire all the time!
There are a few brands and they all work really similarly- but I love my instapot!
10 Quick and Easy Instapot dinners for Shift Night
Shift night means different things for different people- but one thing is for sure, easy dinners are much needed on shift nights! Here are 10 quick and easy Instapot meals.
Instant Pot Pepper Beef
Craving some yummy Chinese food for dinner? Don't get take out, make this quick pepper beef instead! It whips up in 35 minutes from fridge to table.
Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Idea – Creamy – Tasty – Homemade – Simple Comfort Food – Quick Dinner Family – Kids
Mac and Cheese is a delicious comfort food that everyone loves. Enjoy this spin on a simple classic that is quick and easy to make- without worrying about overbooking the noodles or burning the cheese!
Easy to cook and ready in a flash, you will think you've been cooking this all day long. This hearty meal is great for those 'meat and potatoes' people who want something filling at the end of the day.
Wedding Bells and Fire Trucks! Yes, many Firefighters throughout modern history have chosen to mix the career with their wedding, some brides love it, others hate it- and I think the guests don’t care as long as theirs cake (and maybe a bar)
I’ve asked in many Firefighter circles and kept an eye on Pinterest to bring you the top Firefighter themed Wedding Gear and Ideas!
This article may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you, read the disclosure here.
Wedding Gear for the Bride and Groom
Beauties for the Bride
There are so many wonderful and unique options for Garters, especially on Etsy. Not only are these super cute and sexy, but a must have for any Firefighter Wedding!
Looking for something classy to wear after your engagement, to your rehearsal or even for the wedding? There are so many beautiful jewelry pieces you can add to your collection from Amazon and Etsy! Listed below are the most popular- but their are SO MANY!
Check out these custom helmet shield keychains! They come in multiple colors and wording to make a truly unique gift for your groomsmen. Find them on Etsy! These are an affordable option for groomsmen gifts.
Want something unique and one of a kind! This set of 4 Halligan Bottle Openers, with customization, are a big hit for weddings this year!
If you are still cutting the cake (because so many are getting creative with donuts and cake pops!) then you need to check out these amazing custom Axes for your wedding! Talk about a memorable keepsake! These can be personalized in so many ways and are made by a Fellow Firefighter Wife!
Random Firefighter Wedding Stuff I just had to tell you about!
Silicone Wedding Bands are a MUST for the Firefighter couple. Not only will these protect your hand and your fancy set of wedding bands, but they are also sporting the thin red line- perfect to show your Firefighter love.
This Custom Turnout Gear Wedding Pillow would probably be more appropriate as a wedding gift- but it is so adorable that I wanted to include it in this guide because it could definitely be something you get yourself!
Custom Firefighter Wedding Flutes are an adorable must have for the reception! These would be a great keepsake too.
There you have it, the best Firefighter gear for getting hitched! Did you find something you can’t live without?
Let me know in the comments below!
And if you have any suggestions, send them my way, I’d love to be able to update this as more Firefighter Wedding items come onto the market.
Each Career has it’s perks, and while you didn’t marry the job, being married to a Firefighter has it’s pros and cons.
This is especially evident if you married your Firefighter before they choose this career, which is what happened to me. I remember my husband before he was consumed by the fire life, though I wouldn’t have him any other way now.
However, I do recall what it was like to have a “normal” husband that consistently had off weekends and didn’t scroll instagram for the latest fire.
But he also didn’t love his job, have passion for a career or make an effort to pursue advancement. While this job has it downsides, it also has a lot of upsides too!
So let’s check out the benefits and the downsides to this firefighter life.
Let’s start with the Positives
You get the bed to yourself
Every few days, you get to enjoy the bed all to yourself! Even if you miss your husband (I know I sleep better when he is there!) you still get the opportunity to spread out and steal all the pillows.
Plus, it gives me the chance to do whatever I want in bed. Like sit on my laptop at bedtime or read a book.
It’s a little harder when my husband is home to do those things, particularly if he wants my attention.
This one is like a party trick.
“Oh Whats your spouse do”—- “He’s a Firefighter!”
Which leads to all these questions and comments about how cool it would be to be with a Firefighter and does he know any single Firefighters.
I get so many questions and comments from family, friends and strangers- and it doesnt seem to change with time.
Like how many times are you going to ask about his job, his schedule or his lack of sleep. It’s been yearsssss and we till get these questions!
A Varied Schedule
This one really applies to the Career Firefighter Wife’s- having a 24/48 schedule is heavenly. He gets two days off and you get a break every third day. Absence DOES make the heart go fonder.
Lots of people also prefer the 48/96 schedule.
I’ve not had any personal experience with that one, but some of the Wives I’ve talk to tend to prefer that. Three days off does sound pretty nice, and I’m sure the 48 on becomes “normal” after a few months.
And Kelly Days- these are a little more controversial but again, a varied schedule with the ability to have lots of time off.
I know that this is a “CON” for many in the Volunteer World, because when those tones drop, it can be at a really inconvenient time!
Lots of fire wives talk about having to keep dinner warm, or just eating it by themselves.
Unfortunately, accidents don’t happen at the ‘right’ times, and our firefighters on call will answer the tones even at the most inconvenient of times.
Your Husband is Employed
While this may seem like a no brainer, it is something that we tend to take advantage of.
We’ve all had times where money was an issue and having a job is super important.
Even if that job isn’t the greatest- having a paycheck is super important in the economy today.
Plus, if we’re being realistic, it can take a long time to get on at a career department.
The job prospects for the next 5 years have a huge spike (like a 250% increase) so that will be helpful to those of you looking for a new department. But it’s not uncommon for someone to wait 6 month or even years to get on at a career station.
Ok, but what about the downsides to this fire life?
You are a “Firefighter Wife”
Which to some people is no big deal- but in reality you are so much more than a Firefighter’s wife and it can be frustrating with that label.
Like, “You’re a Firefighter’s wife, you knew your husband would be gone for long days”
Well, gee, thanks. That doesn’t change the fact that I solo parent every third day, or whenever the tones drop, and I might need some help or backup- ESPECIALLY if I have a career of my own.
Which a lot of fire wives do. They shouldn’t just be thought of as Fire Wives when they have their own professions.
The Job is Dangerous
Being Married to a Firefighter you know the job has it’s bad points- but it seems that today, social media makes it a lot worse!
For one, we know that Firefighters are dying from occupational related diseases like cancer, obesity and heart disease- at REALLY high rates.
There’s also the sad truth that many of them are dealing with undiscovered, undiagnosed and untreated PTSD and mental illness that lead to high numbers of suicide.
Many of which are also occupationally related due to the calls, stress and lack of sleep.
And then there’s the dangerous calls. The accidents. The close misses. The ones where your loved one and the department ends up on social media and the news.
All of these can make for a stressful time while they are away at work, extra screening at the doctors office and extra concern over their mental health.
For some, the job ends up not being worth the risk.
They end up missing important events
This applies across the board, from career to military to volunteer and wildland.
Fires. Emergencies. Natural Disasters.
They don’t care that it’s your 15th anniversary, or your kid’s birthday. They happen on Holiday’s and important events no matter how much you’ve planned.
And while your Firefighter is sad they have missed another family event, they know that they have a greater calling.
So it might not seem like a big deal to them, like it seems to you, the wife who is left solo parenting and navigating an event while your firefighter saves the world.
The family atmosphere isn’t always there
Something changed in the last 20 years in the fire service if you ask the old salty dogs.
I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but I can feel the after effects in our department
. Some just aren’t about the family as much as it used to be. Stories long gone of large family dinners and auxiliary groups doing charity. They just don’t happen like they used to.
Thankfully, some wives and firefighter families are making changes with that, but as we all know, it’s hard to institute positive change in the Fire Service.
I wouldn’t change my husband or his career- so that means taking the good with the bad! Do you have any other pros or cons to add to this list? Let me know in the comments!