Here’s the real deal about being married to a Firefighter.
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. There’s some really good days and some really shitty ones.
AND, This is especially evident if you married your Firefighter before they choose this career, which is what happened to me.
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. I can’t say we were happier- but it was a little less chaotic.
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 like LODDs and other risks, it also has a lot of upsides too!
Let’s start with the Positives
Before we dive into the bad stuff… let’s talk about the GOOD stuff. And this isn’t placing blame. Ladies and Gents, marriage is a two way street!
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.
Sure, I’m probably thinking about a 1000 things on shift day– but at least I get to think in silence!
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 doesn’t seem to change with time.
Yes I am still married!
It just goes on and on sometimes. Sure, we laugh about it while texting, but I know there’s other texts he would rather get on shift.
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!