When firefighters tell someone what they do for a living and that they work 24hr shifts alot of questions tend to come up. These questions tend to be the same ones over and over and over again.
But the average person who isn’t working in the industry is completely oblivious to what actually happens on the job and at the station so these questions will always come up.
A common one is what the heck do firefighters do at night? Let me go ahead and give you the short answer which is eat, sleep and run calls. Kinda vague huh?
That’s what happens without any of the fluff between. But that fluff Is actually extremely important to the crew. Well let’s dig into it shall we.
The perception of what firefighters do can be both negative and positive. Some might say that firefighters just sleep and get paid to do that. And certain low call volume departments do have that luxury and its awesome! Others will say that they fight fires all night. Of course peoples imaginations run wild with other crazy ideals about what firefighters do.
Well most departments are fire and medical….with it mostly being medical. So that one isn’t super likely on a consistent basis. It’s true firefighters get paid to sleep to an extent… that sleep is usually very broken with very little actual REM sleep.
The reality is somewhat subjective but most of the time once the clock hits five crews will start wrapping up administrative duties. That’s right when firefighters are not running calls during the day they are probably doing busy work. Gotta get paid right?
Since the fire service is so taxing mentally and emotionally, the night time serves as a mental check between the crews. Its the time where the crew eats dinner together, talks about the day and laughs.
Its almost like mental rehab from the day. This can include just talking or hitting the weights together or even playing a quick card game.
Some may choose to make the time about wrapping up unfinished assignments for school while its quiet around the station. Of course this is all done while still running emergency and non-emergency calls.
Unfortunately most really terrible 911 calls occur at night. This time at night may seem frivolous to someone who doesn’t work in the field but it’s extremely helpful for moral and mental health. Their are several ways that firefighters and their families can make the most of a shift without it hurting their time and energy.
Mental health issues are all too common in this line of work and this provides the perfect opportunity to check in on one another. Of course this varies between different departments, shifts or crews. Its important that a firefighter has his or her needs met.
Once the night is over MOST of the crew members will attempt to get some sleep. On shift you never know when you are going to get a call next and even just one relatively easy call can really mess up your sleep pattern. All those high speed and low drag shifts can really wear on you and your love for the job.
How so? Let me give an accurate comparison. Set your alarm to wake up at 3 AM, then get dressed and run to your car, haul ass to the nearest gas station to get a giant big gulp soda and then chug it. After that, haul ass back home and attempt to go back to sleep. That’s the equivalent of running a call in the middle of the night. I don’t recommend doing this by the way. Drive safe!
This is how a typical night might go for a firefighter.
5-6pm will probably be hitting the gym if they haven’t already and begin prepping for dinner. Whether that’s in the kitchen or simply determining what kind of takeout the crew wants to do.
6-7 it’s chow time! This is where all the world’s problems are solved…at the firefighter dinner table. Its where alot of laughs and reflection on the day start to take place. It’s where some of the best and worst food is served! Depending on whose turn it is to cook.
7-8 clean up time. Probie typically starts it off with everyone slowly pitching in. This where the probie shows he wants to do his part. Its a sign of respect of the job. Its called paying your dues and everyone goes through it.
8-9 it’s time to relax. Whether that is a game of cards or a movie night with the crew. Its the time for bonding, friendly check-in and relationship building.
9-10 showering and getting ready for bed. Trying to get to bed at a decent hour is a must because you have no idea if you will sleep or not.
Throw in a few medical calls and if you’re lucky a ripping fire and BOOM! You got yourself a night as a firefighter!
So are fire fighters busy all night?or do they sleep?
Well the answer varies and not exact. Once in awhile it’s what firefighters call a no-hitter which means no calls all night. Some nights it’s non stop. That’s the joy of the fire service anything can happen.
These nights are even longer if your the paramedic writing all the reports. Make sure its worth it!
This is always an illusive question for people that dont know this line of work. Hopefully this gives some insight of what it can be really like. Not so mysterious or exciting is it? Just the unwind time where crews can focus only on each other and the calls that they run.Oh and of course sleep!