Opinion: to help firefighters, help their spouses

On this blog I really try to keep it productive… useful tips, stuff that can be implemented. I try to see myself as part of the solution- not the problem. 

But sometimes, there are no tips to share about a topic.

Today I wanted to share an opinion, one that is becoming stronger and stronger the more I get involved in the firefighting arena. 

I’ve talked to many wives and spouses, even more so now that I have people contacting me because of this blog. 

We’ve talked about all kinds of things, and you’ll see it mentioned in some of the posts. How women firefighters have husbands who have to learn how to cope, and firefighter wives who have zero idea about cancer or PTSD. 

I’ve tried to be a part of the solution. 

But today, I’m angry, so I’m going to write this out. 

If you want to save Firefighters, you need to involve their spouses. 

Sure, it sounds like common sense. 

But is it applied? 

Ehhh, why don’t you ask the firefighter wife whose knee deep in household obligations and work because her husband has occupational cancer? 

Or the widow who didn’t even realize her firefighter was at risk? 

Or the husband who can’t understand why some male firefighters are so damn rude to his wife? 

Or the firefighter girlfriend who doesn’t understand why her boyfriend pushes her away, despite telling her that he loves her but this job is too dangerous? 

It’s a team affair people. 

Team. 

Brotherhood. 

Unity. 

Not the instagram, ‘we’ll take it from here’ BS.

We hear it all the time at training, and meetings and conferences. Yet how many times do we involve the family? 

How many times do we say to the husbands and wives, “hey, your firefighter may not want to talk about it, but they are at much higher risks for cancer and ptsd. While we’re talking, I know you must be lonely too- but theres resources available for the both of you!”

Even better are the people that stoke the fire. That say that firefighters divorce more than average. 

I’ve written an entire post about it but in a nut shell, the data just doesn’t support that assumption. In fact, firefighters divorce less than military. Firefighters are average. 

But how many people want to start drama and cause accusations to be made. Then we have spouses that have not only the wrong information, but damaging information. 

We know that marriage is a protective factor in preventing suicide– so why are people actively trying to break up marriages with drama and incorrect facts?

Listen, I’m not knocking the people that are making a difference. I see you. I applaud you. I know you’re out there trying to save lives. 

What drives me crazy is the other people that think that cancer is no big deal, or that PTSD just goes away on its own. 

That’s how you end up with not only dead firefighters but dead families. 

We know improperly cleaned bunker gear contributes to cancer, yet how many people bring it home? In the family car? To use for newborn pictures? 

Did we take pictures with our kids in bunker gear? Sure did. 

Had that bunker gear ever seen a fire? NO. Because we know the risks. 

These people out there, especially volunteers don’t know all the risks. 

Hell, we don’t even have medical coverage in all of the United States for cancer or behavioral health. 

Look here, we have more data now than ever before. 

If we want to help our firefighters, not only do we need to educate them, but we need to educate their spouses. 

Spouses are the frontline of defense. They can reach out when behavioral health needs assistance, they can help their firefighter establish good hygiene and cleaning habits in the effort to reduce cancer. 

Spouses are there with the firefighters every day- we need them to be on the same team. 

When we involve the spouses- we take this from a private work thing, to a much larger life event. 

And it’s so simple. 

Invite spouses to a yearly meeting to go over improvements at the station. 

Have a slideshow about health and prevention at the Christmas party. 

Send a packet of info to the address in file addressed to husband and wife. 

Encourage an auxiliary for the spouses to join. 

Have a meet and greet event for new hires where they bring their family. 

What else? What else can we do? Let’s collaborate. Let’s find ways that more people can be aware of the risks firefighters have, and some of the ways we know they can be prevented. If we don’t save our firefighters, who will save us when we need it? 

Find more help for Firefighter Wives here

Mental Health Resources for Firefighters

How to become a Volunteer Firefighter

become a volunteer firefighter

Post Preview: Learn how to become a Volunteer Firefighter. Get a brief view of the education and training requirements to see if being a Volunteer Fireman is right for you. 

 Volunteer Firefighting is so important to many communities across the United States. When time is literally the only thing between life and death, seconds matter.

Many communities are in areas that can take 15-30 minutes for a Career Firefighter to show up, which is why volunteer’s are still a needed part of a communities emergency action plan. They are essential to the safety of the people. 

volunteer firefighter

This post may contain affiliate links, which is no extra cost to you, check out my affiliate disclosure for more information. 

The Basics of a Volunteer Firefighter 

While every station has some different criteria, there are many steps that are the same across the nation. Generally you will want to have be in good health and physically able to do the demands of the job.

The Department will review your background and speak to you about your plans to become a volunteer. After being accepted, you will complete training programs before becoming an official Volunteer Firefighter. 

The Steps to become a Volunteer Firefighter 

Step 1: Make the Decision to Volunteer. 

You wont really know what you’ve gotten yourself into until you’ve been on the job for a few months, but I can assure you that it’s very unlike the TV shows you may have watched.

Being a volunteer means putting your opinions and needs to the side to help others- so you will be in situations that many find hard or difficult (dealing with danger, dealing with death, having to make hard decisions).

We want and need more volunteers- just know that it isn’t like serving cake at a nursing home.

There is a lot more to being a volunteer than some realize. 

Step 2: Once you’ve committed to being a volunteer firefighter, you need to contact your local fire service agency. 

You can call or visit your local volunteer department to ask about openings and specific requirements. There you can talk to other firefighters and officers to get a feel for the position. They can explain to you what’s required physically and mentally. 

Many of the volunteer stations will offer ride alongs so that you can get a feel for the job. I recommend this wherever it is offered.

Some people are thrilled to be a volunteer fireman, others realize it isn’t a good fit. 

Step 3: After all the talking, apply to be a volunteer Firefighter

Once you’ve made the commitment and spoken with the Fire Station, decide if this is the spot for you and apply! 

This could be the point that you go back to Step 2 and look for other stations as well. It’s very important to get a good fit as a volunteer, so don’t discount looking at all of your options. 

After you’ve applied you will go through a screening process. This could be similar to a job interview, where you speak with someone in management and get a physical from your doctor.

The Station could also look at your records to make sure that you don’t have anything that would interfere with you being a fireman ( You won’t be driving a firetruck with a DUI). 

Depending on the department you will have other qualifications as well. These can include (but not always) a high school diploma, a valid drivers license, and living within the Department’s Jurisdiction. Many stations also want volunteers that have their EMT license, so that they can assist with basic medical calls. 

Step 4: Get training! 

This is the most rewarding part! It’s also the hardest. 

Training to be a firefighter is a serious undertaking because you have to think about other people. When it comes to saving your life, or the life of someone else, you can never train enough! 

Everyone that is a volunteer firefighter will need to take a 110-hour NFPA certified course. 

Each Department will have their own training requirements. 

This youtube video provides some insight into the training you would be doing as a firefighter.

There are also many free and paid courses online that you can take to further your knowledge and skill set. They even have books on Amazon

Typically, Departments will have an outline for physical training, so make sure you stay current on your fitness routine! They will also cover things like proper equipment use, auto accidents, structure fires and basic medical care in classroom and hands on learning. If you’d like a headstart you can check out this book on Kindle Amazon, that covers all the basics of Firefighting. 

Examples of specific training could include things like:

Learning proper use of rescue tools like a halligan, ax, k12 saw, and other extrication equipment. 

Emergency rescue procedures. 

Proper use of PPE and turnout gear

Fire prevention

Hazardous material recognition and procedures 

Structure Fire Attack

Fire truck/Fire Apparatus Operation

Firefighters wear many hats, which is part of the reason that volunteer firefighting is so important! It can also lead to a career in firefighting, as many people get a leg up because they were volunteers first. 

Volunteer Firefighters are Badass

Volunteer Firefighter FAQ

But I have so many other questions! 

Do I have to go to school? 

No, Volunteer Firefighters do not have to go to school. However, it is encouraged for firefighters to take the job seriously. For many people, that means that they will go to training courses, some are only a day and some are several weeks.

It’s also important to consider that the majority of calls are medical calls. Many departments encourage you to get your basic EMT license, which can be anywhere from 6-30 weeks depending on the state requirements. This allows you to provide basic medical care to someone when they are injured. 

Can I get paid?

YES/KINDA! There are many Volunteer Departments that offer incentives. These can range from pay per call, to special events, to payment for training requirements.

Some other departments offer retirement pension plans. Almost all of the departments are involved in discount program, where you can receive a percentage off the purchase of many products. 

If you are interested in earning an income, Wildland Firefighters work seasonally. Could be a good option for some people! 

What if I’m in High School? Can I still Volunteer?

Please Do! There is a program for “Junior Firefighters” who don’t meet the traditional age requirements. There are over 2500 programs across the US. Check out NVFC National Junior Firefighter for more information. 

Will I work 40 hours a week?

Not quite. Typical volunteer call volume ranges from once a day to several times a day- most of the incidents are minor. Each station has a system for who is “on call”, so those are the volunteers that would be responding to the call. Many volunteers across the US get a few calls a week. 

Is being a volunteer worth it?

Absolutely! In fact, I wrote an entire post on the benefits of volunteering. It could be the most important thing you ever do in your life- you never know if you will be in the right place at the right time to save a life. 

Conclusion 

My husband made the decision to become a firefighter a few days after his mom was saved from a life and death situation. She was in an auto accident, and it took them 45 minutes to extricate her, then transport her by ambulance another 15 minutes to the nearest hospital. And she lived, from an accident that left her disabled, because of the training that these brave men and women had. 

When you become a volunteer firefighter, you are doing one of the most selfless jobs. You are not paid because you are worthless, you are priceless. This country was founded on volunteers, it is a great thing to do for yourself and your community! 

I hope you found these steps helpful. Please reach out if I can provide any help or more information. I also love to hear from firefighters in all stages of their journey, so drop a comment or shoot me a PM! 

become a volunteer firefighter

The Best Fire Hose Gifts and Do-It-Yourself Crafts

Post Preview: Fire hose has a shelf life. Once it’s reached it’s useful end on the Firefighting side, it gets turned into unique and memorable items, which are perfect gifts for Firefighters!

Not only is Fire Hose amazing for it’s life saving water power, but it also turns into some hot up-cycled items, many of which are perfect gifts for Firefighters.

And that’s not even the best part!

When you make crafts or purchase used fire hose gifts, you are recycling the hose and keeping it out of the landfill!

Obviously, being recycled wasn’t what fire hose was intended for- so finding specific colors is dependent on what gets retired at the time.

>>>>20 secrets the perfect Firefighter doesn’t want you to know<<<<

The items that can be created are truly endless, from belts and wallets to bags and notebooks. Hammocks, chairs and wall art also top the list of creative firehose recyclables.

The creativity doesn’t stop there though. Decommissioned Fire Hose has been in the media lately because of its versatility and strength in keeping doors closed, should an incident occur in a school. And animal habitats have been known to use decommisioned fire hose for play toys and bedding.

Basically, Fire hose is useful from the beginning to the end of it’s life. The real question now is, do you want to DIY your fire hose master piece or purchase an up-cycled firehose piece from a talented artist?

Table of Contents

What’s all the hoopla with recycled fire hose?

Firefighters are a pretty handy bunch. They can also be pretty resourceful too- give them some decommissioned fire hose and you might be surprised what they will make.

I’m thinking that one of them decided to cut up some hose and make something back in the day. Of course, this would be hard to track down- I’m sure it was before the advent of the internet when some hose lover made a bench or some wall art with some old firehose. 

Fire hose is very unique though, so thats why it makes such a fun project. It’s durable, tough and comes in a variety of colors. It also makes an excellent Firefighter gift idea, especially because Firefighters love to have memorabilia.

It’s also super flexible- just imagine all the water a used hose has had to deal with. Those funny videos of firefighters losing control of their fire hose aren’t just for show- they really happen!

Personally, I think it’s a great use of resources that have failed testing or reached their limit. Much better than a landfill or them going to a third world country where they might fail in action.

This post may contain affiliate links at no extra cost to you, please read my affiliate disclosure for more information.

First, Where do you get used Fire Hose?

This is the million dollar question.

Pro tip- Don’t call 911 asking for fire hose…

The first logical answer is calling up your local fire department (non emergency number) and the surrounding stations within a reasonable drive. Ask them if they have any available and also offer to contribute a donation to the department. Chances are, they have some lying around.

Another great option is to look online! Amazon has some new hose, Ebay and Craigslist have used fire hose options, and there are other producers that sell wholesale and retail to the public. You should be able to find some fire hose for sale online.

It may take some hunting, but you can find some recycled fire hose for your DIY projects!

DIY SECTION 

Of course, if you are pretty handy, you could do a lot of these projects yourself. I’m a crafty and avid sewer (sewist? Whats the word when you make stuff with a sewing machine?) but I have yet to attempt playing with fire hose. 

Thankfully, there are some tutorials on how to cut and sew this stuff up! You can also use leather working material to create your design, which would require more of a hand sewn approach- looking at the videos online, it looks like it might be easier to do it hand sewn.

If I was starting out with a new fire hose project, I would probably go with a wall design, or a can holder. Those look like they would be the easiest to make!

Don’t forget about the new hose on amazon, so if you are sentimental about a roll of inch and three quarter line, you can experiment on the new roll from Amazon first. It’s always a good idea to have scrap material for the prototype.

Instructables has several project outlines for working with fire hose. They are look decently easy- working with fire hose has an element of common sense. Its tough like leather but still flexible- almost like a well loved rug.

There are some other really cool ideas that don’t involve sewing. Several options just require cutting and using something like a pin or staple to secure the hose. Others could be hanging hose, or weaving it. I have several really cool ideas saved on my Pinterest board, Fire Hose

Ideas for recycled fire hose with fire hose background

GIFT GUIDE 

Under 20 dollars

Can Coozies from BrotherhoodProducts on Etsy
Firefighter Coaster from American Fire Co

Fire Hose Coupling Pencil Holder from Axes and Hose Co

Fire Hose Wallets and Belts 

Wallets and Belts tend to be the most popular reclaimed fire hose item. If you wanted to purchase some there are several options! Many of these producers are also firefighters (double bonus!!). 

Some popular brands for wallets Recycled Firefighter and Gallo En Fuego. Etsy also has a large collection of independent makers making unique firehose wallets. Though if you want something guranteed, Recycled Firefighter has been making a name for himself in the US, particularly among the EDC crowd. I’ve never heard a bad review!

Belts seem to be easier (maybe?) to make since there are lots of options to choose from!

Ladder34 has some really cool collections to showcase their belt options, like the Hotshot collection and FDNY inspired belts. Personally I like the Attack belts, but my husband would be all over the truckie ones.

Another maker is FireHoze, which has some pretty cool standard colored fire hose belts.

Rustic Firehose has some traditional up cycled firehose belts as well… and I’d be lying if I said they were ugly. The ‘rustic red’ is right up my alley!

Recycled Fire Hose Dogs toys

Nothing screams ‘Fire Pup’ like a Fire Hose chew toy. Seriously, Fire hose makes great dog chew toys because it’s practically indestructible. These are great for aggressive chewers, we’ve tried a few different options for our puppy and the fire hose beats all the other ones hands down!

These 5 Star rated Fire Hose Chew Toys are a must have for any pup!

And dont forget about ones with squeakers! My dog is OBSESSED with squeezers!

Amazon has a great selection of dog toys to choose from for your furry friend!

Don’t forget about Etsy! They have some super cute dog collars and accessories.

Our Fire Dog with our son, sitting on the fire truck.
Our Fire Pup!

Bags and Notebooks 

These are some of my favorite items that have been made from upcycled Fire Hose. I think some of the color combinations are really stunning.  While you can find turnout gear bags everywhere, fire hose bags tend to be a little more exclusive.

On Etsy, this is listed as a Bag Truck Tarpaulin and Fire Hose ensemble made with some great 5 star reviews!

One of the most popular brands for these fire hose bags and notebooks is Recycled Firefighter. It looks like he mastered the creative part of fire hose and went to work making some cool items!

Then there are two options in Europe. FeuerWear and Elvis & Kresse. Both of them have some amazing fire hose bags and accesories (and shipping looks pretty reasonable to the US!).

Decor 

Etsy is my go to when I want to look at creative uses for Fire hose, and it does not disappoint! This is especially true for Firefighter gifts for a Fire Wall or a Firefighter Themed Man Cave.

You will find so many creative things on Etsy made from firehose, truly one of a kind pieces.

This item is both hilarious, yet useful. Male and Female Bathroom signs!

Some of my favorite firehose creations are an American Flag Fire Hose from AmericanFireCo,

The ever popular Fire Hose Bench from AxesandHoseCo

I love these absolutely original wall hangings from BrotherhoodProducts.

Conclusion 

So if you have some vintage fire hose, you’ve got two options. Chop it up yourself, or get someone else to make you a custom fire hose piece. 

If you don’t have firehose, because not many of us do, definitely consider some of these unique items available for purchase (many of these stores are owned by firefighters- double win!)

Did I inspire a new firefighter themed collection? Or did I miss your favorite firehose creation? Let me know in the comments! 

fire hose gift guide


PTSD- The basics for First Responders

It seems that PTSD is a hot topic among First Responders these days. From talking about it, to training courses and mentions in the news. But it can be hard to talk about something that you dont fully understand.

So First Responders, their spouses and their family need to get a basic understand of what PTSD is, and what it is not. Sometimes you just want a straight answer!

*** 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.

Why do you need to Know about PTSD?

That’s the most important question- because if you don’t find this information valuable, then it won’t matter to you!

So why do you need to know about PTSD?

PTSD is something that can effect you, your family or people that you encounter as a result of a traumatic event.

You need to know about PTSD because it can have an impact on your life- either indirectly or directly. Especially if you are a first responder or connected to one.

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But you need to know that not everyone will experience PTSD

While the numbers are pretty high, not everyone experiences PTSD. Sometimes everyday stressors can seem like a lot to handle, but they aren’t impacting how you function day to day.

Other times, PTSD can sneak up on you, and you suppress it because you have too much going on. If you experience symptoms that last longer than a month it’s time to talk to a professional .

What’s the definition of PTSD

The American Psychatric Association defines PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event.

PTSD can occur in all people, in people of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and any age.

People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. View the article here.

Quick Stats according to this study

-33% of EMT’s and Paramedics will experience PTSD

-Females are more likely than males to have PTSD

-Moreover, this study found that PTSD was also the strongest predictor of health-related problems— stronger than depression, anxiety or job strain.

-PTSD among these first responders is associated with biomarkers that indicate neuroendocrine changes (e.g. cortisol, blood pressure) that may contribute to disability.

Many ways that PTSD can present itself

PTSD can look like a lot of different things, and it can also look different for Firefighters, Police Officers and Dispatchers.

They can have different thoughts associated with PTSD based on what they experienced and how often it’s happened.

So lets cover some general things that PTSD can present itself as for many of the first responders.

For one, PTSD can be a result of HEARING about a trauma.

 It can also occur as a result of repeated exposure to horrible details of trauma such as police officers exposed to details of child abuse cases. (See source here)

For Two, it can take some time to present itself. This is called Delayed Onset PTSD- it’s why many believe there shouldn’t be a reporting time limit.

For three, gender does play a role. About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%). Learn more about women, trauma and PTSD.

Fourth, it can be something that is manageable, or something that becomes a severe disability. This is entirely a case by case basis that will require diagnosis to determine.

PTSD is NOT this

PTSD is not something to be ashamed about. Those with PTSD have been through a lot. It’s literally in the title- they have experienced something traumatic.

But It is not something that is just going to go away on its own either.

Having PTSD is a very real thing for many people, it can stem from childhood trauma, or a very stressful event. You can even get it from secondary sources (think 9/11- we all have some awareness of that day, some worse than others).

Many people think that having PTSD is a weakness, a flaw, and something that they should keep locked up and hidden away.

But PTSD can cause this

Those that have PTSD are at a higher risk of depression.

And being depressed can cause higher risks of Suicide.

And a large number of first responders take their life every year.

See the connection here?

The problems aren’t always concrete- those with PTSD won’t always have depression, and those with depression won’t always have PTSD.

BUT we do know that we need to be aware of the connections so we can work on preventative care, especially so that we can save our First Responder Family. You can read more about the PTSD and Depression connection.

Get some Help

I would encourage you to talk to someone- you can speak to your employment assistance program at work.

You can find resources online, most importantly Like the national suicide prevention hotline.

You should also consider talking to someone about PTSD, please check out this FREE app for managing PTSD.

Hotline for FIRE/EMS (from the website- they are 24/7 and first responders OR their family can call about issues like alcohol or drug addiction, depression, suicide prevention, stress or anxiety, critical incidents, PTSD, stress caused by financial management issues or legal problems, relationship issues, work-related concerns, or psychological issues)

First Responder Crisis Support Line

I also have a resource with many other helpful sites for Firefighter Mental Health (As well as occupational health etc)

Let’s Recap

PTSD can happen to anyone- but it does tend to compound with First Responders, and personal and work life can blend together.

You want to get help for PTSD, it doesn’t have to rule your life or the lives of your loved ones.

What Firefighter Wives need to know about PTSD

What to do when your Firefighter doesn’t want to talk about it


What to do when your Firefighter doesn’t want to talk about it

We’ve all been there. It doesnt matter if your married, dating or just friends- there are times when your firefighter has had a rough time and they don’t want to talk about it.

It’s tough.

It’s tough for them living with those thoughts and memories, and it’s tough for you, as you watch them suffer (in silence or by acting out in other ways) and you don’t know how to help.

Or maybe you are doing your best to help and you want some reassurance that you are doing the right thing.

Whatever you are feeling, just know that you aren’t alone. As we become more aware of behavioral and mental health, we begin to understand just how complex the brain really is!

Let’s take a look at a few things you can do when your Firefighter doesn’t feel like talking.

*** 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.

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First things first, understand that it’s normal to have bad calls

It’s just a part of the job. People from all walks of emergency responders and trauma intervention will experience bad calls.

Some days will just be bad days. If one call isn’t enough to shake the strongest of people, a series of bad calls (or a larger tragic event) will bring event the top dogs to their knees.

So when we hear that our Firefighter had a bad call, we have to remember that other people experience this as well.

Which is good and bad. There is strength in numbers, but there is also a stigma around ‘being weak’. Even if the whole crew experienced the same thing, there are those that are willing to talk about it and those that aren’t.

It can be a very touchy subject at work depending on the type of culture for that Fire Station. Talk to your firefighter (hopefully ahead of time) and ask them about their experience with talking to their team mates about hard calls.

This will give you some insight into how they might process the call (if everyone ignores it, your FF might ignore it too!) and it will also tell you if you are one of the only ones your firefighter can talk to, or if they have other people that might be able to lend an ear.

Be there, even if they can’t tell you what’s wrong

This is likely the most important thing to remember. You just need to be there for them, even when they can’t talk about it. This can be a gentle touch, or just someone to watch TV with.

Try to remember that they need time to work through what they have experienced and it can be difficult to come to terms with what they have seen (and everything else they may be questioning at that point!)

It’s not you, it’s them

What else can you do?

You can contact someone, especially if things get serious. You can take care of yourself and learn how to love and care for yourself (fill your cup, so you can help them fill theirs).

You can learn more about the basic of PTSD for Firefighter wives and you can also learn how to help Firefighters cope with trauma.

Most importantly, you can help to break the stigma around what Firefighters, Police Officers, Military and other first responders experience- both on and off the job.

They see some really heavy stuff, and the world takes them for granted.

Learn the Triggers

You have so many resources available for you to learn more about PTSD, depression and suicide in first responders. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. Here’s some great places to start.

Mental Health Resources for Firefighters

The Basics of PTSD for First Responders

What Firefighter Wives need to know about PTSD

What Else Can you Do?

If you feel that you or your FireFighter needs help, reach out. There are so many resources available, both at your station, in your community and online.

The Statitics are there- Firefighters are taking their lives at numbers that, quite frankly, are too damn high.

While you can’t force your Firefighter to talk about it, you can be there and do what you can (while still filling your cup) so that you can help them in their time of need. Sometimes that means they will retire early, sometimes it means they need to get counseling.

At the end of the day, we hope that they know how valuable they are to their family, and that they can get through this!

5 ways to be a Better Father and Firefighter

Being a firefighter can be hard at times. Just like it’s hard to be a Dad at times.

You’ve got all these thoughts running through your head and sometimes it’s really hard to turn it off.

A lot of times you’re at work worried about the kids and sometimes you’re with the kids and can’t help but to think about work.

Let’s face it the job takes it’s mental toll.

I know for me, especially after I’ve had a hard shift, I just come home and I hold my kids and wonder am I doing everything I can to make sure I don’t f*ck them up? Are they bothered by me leaving for 24 hours every 3rd day?

It’s hard because we see the worst as firefighters.

We see the chronically ill kids, we see the bad accidents, we see the kids that are abused.

It really does have a lasting effect on us, wether we believe it or not.

It has us questioning our role as fathers and if we are doing a good job.

So how can we be better fathers and firefighters? 

Step one- Be Fully Present

This can mean a lot of things, from putting down your phone to getting those thoughts out of your head.

You can’t enjoy your kids if you’re constantly thinking about something else, or trying to escape reality through social media.

Give yourself a few minutes before you walk inside and just breath and calm your mind. Or sneak away to the bathroom for a breather. It really helps to have a place to get your mind right when it starts to slip

Remember you need to change gears from firefighter to dad. (and then back again!)

If you are fully present, it will help with both sides of the coin. It will allow you to sleep better at night knowing that you involved your kids, and it will help you when you are at the station, wondering if they are better off without you (they aren’t, they need you so much more than you realize).

Step two-set up some legacy things

At best these will be items that you can share with your kids when they are older, at worst they are items that will be shared with your kids when you’re gone.

Make them happy you’re a fighter, but proud that you’re their dad.

This also means making sure that you have life insurance (and a good amount!) in place. It’s hell on your family if you pass away and leave them with only enough for a year or two.

Get some large 15 year term policies while the kids are still at home to make things easier if the unthinkable happens.

I took the kids the other day to get a firefighter bear at build a bear that has my voice recording. Yes, it helps for the days that I’m away, but I know it will mean more if I’m gone.

We simply can’t think we are invincible. That’s how we hurt our families the most.

BE A MAN AND MAKE A PLAN!

It’s ok firefighter bear, I totally feel like that with my helmet on too.

Step three- set up special daddy and me time

Well this may seem like a no brainer, between working and volunteering and life, the kids aren’t always put first.

It’s simply not possible.

After all we have to work so that we can take care of them.

And what do we even do with them? I asked my wife enough times she finally gave me a list of things to do.

But something that we can do and we need to do more of is setting up special times and events just for daddy just for you and the kids. Sometimes simply letting them help you with a project around the house is all they want and need.

(Here’s my secret list- get food, go play! It’s simple. Normally we do chickfila and the park, or the bounce house, or the water park. When they are older we are going to hit the trails)

Step four-prioritize your self care

Why should you prioritize self-care when you should be spending what precious little time you have free with your kids?

Here’s the secret, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your kids.

If you’re stressed out and yelling at the kids ( because we’ve all been there and done that.) You simply won’t be the best that you can be.

I assure you that you cannot fill from an empty cup and if you are not taking care of yourself… your cup is empty.

I had to learn this the hard way (and maybe you did too) but lets not be knuckle heads. Firefighters are dealing with rates of burnout and suicide (and grumpy ole men who won’t retire) at rate that are WAY too high.

If you’re an ass at the station, you’re probably a grump at home. Take care of yourself.

Step five-keep all things in perspective

It may seem like a really big deal to you now, but it probably isn’t.

What I mean by that is, your kids being with you is a relatively short period of your life.

If you live to be 70, 18 years doesn’t seem that long.

And if you really think about it kids are only really interested in you for the first 10 years or so. Then they go through that rough adolescent stage, then they become adults and your friend.

So when you’re in the trenches of parenthood wondering if you’re screwing everything up just remember that this is a very short period of time. And somethings that you want to do without your kids could possibly wait until they are older.

This doesn’t contradict self-care as you still need that to be fully functioning, this just means that you shouldn’t work six days out of the week while your kids are itty- bitty and then wonder where the time has gone. 

I hope this helps you become the firefighter and father you are meant to be

Life has a funny way of working out. I never thought I would love being a father as much as I do, nor did I know that Firefighting was my calling. But that’s the way it works.

Trust the process. And don’t take your kids, your wife, your life, or your crewmates for granted.

Let me know some of the ways you make the fire life work with your dad responsibilities.

10 quick instapot dinners for shift night

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

Photo Credit: mooshujenne.com

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.

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Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Idea – Creamy – Tasty – Homemade – Simple Comfort Food – Quick Dinner Family – Kids

Photo Credit: kimspireddiy.com

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!

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Instant Pot Chicken Thighs with Teriyaki Sauce Recipe & Review

Photo Credit: www.nutfreewok.com

Chicken is a staple in our house, but sometimes it takes too long to cook!

This recipe boasts a ridiculously fast meal- total time to make these yummy chicken thighs is under 20 minutes! The recipe also comes with allergy modifications so everyone can be included.

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Instant Pot Cheesy Chipotle Pasta (Gluten-Free)

Photo Credit: www.moonandspoonandyum.com

yum!

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30-Minute Loaded Baked Potato Soup Is Creamy Comfort in a Bowl

Photo Credit: foodal.com

There's nothing like a savory meal after a long day. Which is exactly what this loaded potato soup is for. Enjoy this as a main dish or a scrumptious side. Easy to make and delicious to eat!

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Dump and Start Instant Pot Mexican Quinoa + Tutorial {Vegan, Gluten Free}

Photo Credit: recipesfromapantry.com

Quick, easy and full of flavor this hispanic inspired dish is a great meal to throw in the instapot.

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Pressure Cooker Ham with Just 3 Ingredients!

Photo Credit: eatingrichly.com

Dreaming of an easy holiday ham? Look no further than this pressure cooker ham recipe. This is a must have recipe for holidays- especially those extra busy ones that fall on shift days.

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Instant Pot Chicken Alfredo Pasta

Photo Credit: littlesunnykitchen.com

Another spin on an easy classic, chicken alfredo in the instapot is great for a quick dinner meal. This comfort food is a wonderful meal that everyone in the family (or on your shift!) will love.

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Instant Pot Kielbasa, Mushroom and Potato Soup

Photo Credit: mooreorlesscooking.com

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.

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Instant Pot Olive Garden Low Carb Italian Chicken

Photo Credit: thisoldgal.com

Not only is this a quick and easy meal, but it's wonderful as a freezer meal to prepare ahead of time and dump into the instapot when you are ready to eat!

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Firefighter Couple Relationship Problems ( 7 common issues)

Let’s face it, every relationship has it’s ups and downs.

But:

Some of these problems are caused by external factors- like jobs, and probably wouldn’t be that big of an issue if they weren’t in that career. This is especially true for firefighters (both paid and volunteer) as their job impacts their relationship.

I point these out, not to scare people, or discourage a relationship, but to highlight the truth of the matter. No relationship is perfect, and being in the fire life can add some addition stress to a relationship.

So let’s look at these problems with an open mind, and hopefully find a solution (at least get honest!) about these problems!

What are the relationship problems that Firefighter couples face?

Let’s look at 7 common issues with Firefighters, and how we can combat them to make it work in the Fire Life.

Issues with Time Management

One of the big factors in a relationship is that each of the people pull their own weight. This is in every part of the relationship, from the communication to the sex to the budget.

But what if your partner doesn’t make time or really sucks at time management, and then things get put to the side because theirs no time left?

Yeah, it definitely puts a ding in the relationship.

This is especially true because many firefighters work odd hours, or two jobs. And don’t even get me started on a volunteer firefighters schedule! It can look CRAZY!

So many of these issues feel like a bigger deal than they are- but what it often boils down to, is that one or both of the pair have some serious issues with making the relationship a priority. It’s likely that many other areas of their life suffer from poor time management as well (late bills, high stress from lack of self care, house is a mess etc).

I do have a post on time management– but it won’t work unless you get honest about it!

Not understanding the fire life (the obsession is real)

Even some seasoned wives who’ve been in this for a long time will agree, it’s hard to truly grasp the fire life.

Some days I just look at my husband and think, how can he be this obsessed.

Thankfully, I really enjoy his career (I mean I blog about it!) and I love him, so I do my best to really get in his head and see it through his eyes. But not everyone is like that, not every one can be like that. It’s nice to have some things that are different about your relationship and personality.

BUT

When the obsession for the Fire life takes over- it can leave the relationship hurt.

It can also cause the opposite effect, where the other person begins to hate the love the firefighter has for his career. It is truly a double edged sword.

So think about it, can your firefighter turn off his notifications? Take a vacation? Not talk about the fire life for 24 hours?

Does it bother you when your firefighter CAN’T stop talking about firefighter stuff?

Lack of time off

Not many people understand this one. I KNOW that there are many many hardworking Americans in every profession, but there is something about first responders and military that makes it harder to take time off.

I mean, my husband was debating on if he should only do 4 weeks of paternity leave because the “guys will need him back”.

And we had to have an honest conversation about how I needed him, and the kids needed him, and he agreed.

But

Not all firefighters understand that. Or have had that explained to them. This is really true when the firefighters were doing their firefighter thing long before they had a girlfriend/fiance/wife.

Sometimes its the lack of time off because they are short staffed, other times it’s because they feel they can’t get away. Regardless- it has an effect on their relationship. and sometimes that isn’t always a good thing!

You have to accommodate for a Second Family

This certainly isn’t always the case, but in many departments it truly is a family.

Which is great. I love the firefighters my husband calls his family, I know they have his back when they are in the field, and they treat me like family too.

Then why am I sometimes jealous of their bromance?

It does seem kind of silly, but it’s also completely honest. Sometimes I resent that my husband has a second family because it means that he will never be 100% loyal to me. I know that if they needed help, or there was a mass casualty or there was a natural disaster- He would WANT and feel compelled to be there.

This is problem on my end, but a problem none the less because I will be angry or frustrated at him for being a loyal and dedicated worker to his people.

It’s one of those situations where you would check to see why you’re really angry or upset. Is it because he was gone for three hours to help out OR is it because you don’t feel like a priority anymore?

Dealing with PTSD and mental health

Let’s chat about PTSD really quick.

They estimate that the majority of firefighters will have PTSD at least once in their career- so it can be safe to assume that if you are in a long term relationship with a firefighter, at least one event will have some repercussions.

Then we consider that over half of Americans deal with depression or anxiety.

Those stats just made it really hard for a couple to have a “normal” life together.

Why? Because many people still view mental illness or PTSD as a weakness, and not something to get help for. When in reality their are many many things that can help, both big and small, for mental health.

If you are both feeling good, it is so much easier to have a relationship- but when things are hard mentally, or one of you is struggling with a battle in your head, it makes things so much harder!

Get honest with your partner about any hang ups you may have. If you can’t trust them, then who can you trust?

Spend more time away than together

Every relationship has “gaps” of time where the other partner is gone. As a firefighter, or a firefighter partner, you can guarantee that their will be gaps with a traditional work schedule.

But the special stuff tends to come up too. Forest Fires and other natural disasters can call Firefighters away from home for weeks or months at a time. Special events or schooling, conferences, classes for degrees or promotions can all lead to an excessive amount of time away from each other.

I know that when my husband was in medic school, and gone 6 days out of the week for most of the year and several months he only had two off days, about broke me. And if I was broken there would be no relationship.

Even just a traditional relationship, where both partners work, doesn’t allow for lots of time together. I do have some helpful text suggestions to send your Firefighter while their on shift here!

Think about the wife working Monday thru Friday and then the firefighter working 24/48. That leaves maybe one full day a week and then some nights to catch up.

That’s simply not enough time to even invest in the relationship, and it is a pitfall you need to watch for so that you don’t grow apart.

Not having enough money

This isn’t meant to feel cliche- it’s the truth.

Consider two scenarios:

The typical rookie firefighter who isn’t making enough to support his family. (feelings of inadequacy, feeling like a failure, having to get a second or third job)

The volunteer firefighter who feels guilty about volunteering when he should have a second job to support his family. He knows the value of volunteering, but he also feels bad his main job doesn’t make enough (or his volunteering gets in the way of a bigger paycheck because he always leaves to take calls).

Those scenarios are not made up- they’re lived by firefighters all over. And not having enough money will always have an impact on a relationship due to stress, trust, health issues etc. When 80% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, it can be stressful just to take a day off- even if it’s for being sick!

Consider what you can do to get honest about your money problems, get a budget and work on a plan to get to a better place financially.

Final Thoughts

Did any of these problems stand out to you in your relationship?

These are all common issues that have been highlighted to me through my personal life, as well as talking to other couples that are in the Firefighter Circle.

Comment below if you have any thoughts, or better yet, helpful advice, for others in this fun and sometimes ridiculous Fire Life!

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Need more Firefighter Relationship Info? Check out my helpful posts!

Advice and Books for a marriage in Crisis

Everything you need to know about dating a Firefighter

Tips for the Firefighter Couple

The Stats about Firefighter Divorce, are you at risk?

Firefighter Wife- Pros and Cons

7 Must Watch Firefighter TED talks

Firefighter TED talks

Everyone needs some encouragement (or a good kick in the ass) every now and then- and Firefighters are no different!

TED talks provide a great way for people to get the inspiration they need- in an easy to swallow video format.

Check out these TED talks for firefighters and why we think you’ll want to watch these!

Must watch Firefighter Ted Talks

Matthew O’Reilly- Am I dying?

In this short, but important, TED talk, O’reilly covers that all important question that firefighters get asked.

“Am I dying?”

His take on the question, and how he has lived it with the patients he has treated is a fresh take on a very sensitive topic. This is great for new and seasoned First Responders- but should be a must watch for anyone considering the field.

You can check out the accompanying article here.

Jan Rader- In the Opioid Crisis, Here’s what it takes to save a life.

Jan Rader is a Fire Chief, and her honesty about the severity of the opioid crisis is an important reminder.

Firefighters aren’t just there for fires, they run medical calls- and many of those calls could be preventable.

Rader presents a story of hope, and how her band of first responders are changing the conditions in their community for the better.

Shelli Rae Varela- Hacking Possibility

In this Motivational Speech, Varela covers how she went from someone who never considered firefighting, to “hacking” her way into her dream career.

A great reminder for those that have been on the job for a while, but a must watch for anyone who has less than a few years- it gives you the perspective you need to appreciate how great this job really is!

Timothy Brown- Ordinary People, Extraordinary Heroes

The events surrounding 9/11 have effected us all- even if we don’t realize it.

In this true story of a firefighter who was there on 9/11, we hear the gripping testimony of a man, a firefighter, who lived through one of the worst events in our lifetime.

Ben Thompson- You can be the hero someone needs

Thompson gets really honest about something we all experience as Firefighters- abuse of the 911 system.

He talks about how it changed him and what he did in his community to lessen the burden of those who depend on EMS for non emergencies. This is an important watch for those that need help with their communities.

Anthony Guerne- The Effects of the Suck it up Culture- PTSD in EMS

A Paramedic and Volunteer Firefighter, Guerne talks about how PTSD has effected him. The “ambulance Driver” who is talking out the trauma that he has experienced and how the culture doesn’t help with what they’ve lived.

Stewart McMillian- Lessons learned by Becoming a Leader by Circumstance

Stewart McMillian talks honestly about life in the early stages of firefighting.

From his father who was a Chief, to their company they developed, Stewart addresses how he was thrust into a leadership role he wasn’t quite prepared to take.

Conclusion

As we move into more video formats, TED talks and the like will be very important for Firefighters to learn from others.

Do you have a favorite video that you use for inspiration or maybe to help fellow firefighters? Let me know in the comments below!

Recommended Posts

Are you the perfect Firefighter?

Actionable steps for Work Life Balance for Firefighters

The Planner for Firefighters

Ideas and Items for a Firefighter Photo Shoot

We all love pictures, especially today with our sophisticated smart phones and especially with firefighters (seen instagram lately?)

From single shoots, to couple engagements and then family photos- there’s so many great ideas and cool options for pictures! Then add in maternity pictures, wedding pictures and special events- there’s no limit to the amount of photo ideas.

So let’s look at some of the favorite ideas all in one place with some helpful suggestions.

This article may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you, read the disclosure here.

Before we begin

Obviously a Firefighter photoshoot of some sort isn’t complete without bunker gear or some other fire related uniform.

Let’s just keep in mind that gear is covered in carcinogens that have been linked to high levels of occupational cancer.

Think twice before you use gear that might not have been properly cleaned! Ask your firefighter to do a thorough decon of all gear that will be in contact with children or newborns.

When the station got brand new gear, we took advantage of it for some fun kid friendly photos!

Quick Items and Ideas for a Firefighter or Thin Red Line Themed Photoshoot!

Thin Red Line Flag– Flags are such a classic way to spice up a shoot! Use them for backdrops or for a newborn shoot.

American Flag– Obviously, this can’t be placed on the ground, but it can be used as a backdrop or drape. Most Departments have a really big flag too- ask to see if you can borrow it for a photo session at the station!

Firetruck- this one is a no brainer, but some departments do have some strict rules about pictures. You can always talk to the county or see if their are some “junk” trucks that have been bought by a local company to use!

Animals– what’s cuter than a doggo and a firetruck? throw in a cute kid and it’s a great photo!

Ax, Halligan, Fire Hose, helmets- These Classic tools of the trade are great (albeit a little dangerous for kids) photo props since your firefighter uses them all the time.

Smoke Props and Smoke Bombs– Looking for a really cool and dramatic effect for your pictures? Pick up some fake smoke for a cool fire themed backdrop. These are especially fun for couples and kids to play with!

Cute kids props– Of course, you can use what you have on hand! I know most of the Fire Families have more than their share of firetrucks and outfits laying around. If you dont, there are plenty on amazon!

Firefighter themed clothing and t-shirts– We know that you have a ton of tshirts as a firefighter family, it comes with the territory! Put those shirts and clothing to good use with a few outfit changes during your photoshoot. Or better yet, turn some of them into a quilt!

Props for Special Occasions (graduation, retirement, newborns)

Special occasions call for special pictures! Are you celebrating a life event? There are some really cool props for those that are!

For newborns, I absolutely love having a cloth diaper cover– these are different from bloomers made many years ago.

TimelessCrochetCraft

Also consider getting a custom plaque or shadow box made for the occasion. You could even give it as a gift during the photoshoot and get some reaction shots!

Looking for some more ideas?

I have several Pinterest boards with photography ideas! Check them out!

Photoshoots and Headshots

Maternity and Pregnancy Announcements

Firefighter Wedding

Conclusion

Did you see anything that you are going to use for your next photoshoot? Have some pictures you would like to see featured? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email!