The best job in the world. Truly in my eyes you wont find a better job then being a firefighter. But I’m very biased in that sense. So what I’m going to do for you is truly try and give you an idea of the upsides and the downsides of taking this career path.
We will hit the good, the bad and the ugly. Because while this job is full of enriching and one of a kind of experiences…it does have the ability to be very difficult mentally and physically. So here is the a list based on my own personal experience as a firefighter.
Lets start with the good stuff and mind you this is only a few of the great things about this job so read and form the best opinion you can for yourself.
You get to help people.
This is probably the most notable and obviously positive thing about this career. This is a selfless career so you have to have the real desire to help other when they are in dire need in order to last as a firefighter.
But its extremely rewarding to make somebodies really crappy situation do a complete 180 and start improving. This is both the fire and medical side.
Remember that when a house is on fire its not just a building its someone’s home and possibly what they have invested their entire lively hood into.
Paid to sleep
Oh yeah! So you may be at work for 24 hours but if nobody is calling 911 you get to sleep all night on the clock. And trust me paid to sleep is a wonderful thing. And trust me sleep is one of the most important thing for anyone especially firefighters.
Now don’t get me wrong their are shifts where I personally get no sleep because its non stop calls but that isn’t all the time. Most of the time it ends up being 2 or maybe 3 calls then back to my pillow and blanky. Truly you can’t beat getting paid to sleep.
You get to break stuff
This is a personal favorite of mine. If you are not breaking stuff then are probably training on how to break stuff.
That includes learning to breaking and entering (legally and for the greater good), tearing cars to pieces, breaching walls, cutting roofs or anything else that maybe in the way of trying to help people in bad situations.
Its controlled demolition with justification so its a win all around.
Whole second family
When you work with a crew for a bit of time the brotherhood and sisterhood really starts to kick in. This group of guys and girls start to become a family unit.
Mind you slightly dysfunctional one but a family none the less. Before you know it everyone knows your kids and now they have a bunch of aunts and uncles.
Remember you spend 24 hours at a time with your crew so you learn to love them! Also check out these great activities to do when the family visits the station!
Some of the most fun I’ve had in my entire life!
This job will stick with me for the rest of my life even after i decide to finish this career path. The amount of countless good times Ive personally had on the job is endless.
From working structure fires with some of the best people you will ever met to grabbing ice cream with my crew after a long day of training and running calls.
Many holidays been worked without regret because the wife and kids came to shift dinner. Things like this really make it the best job in the world.
More on that topic here- Is it fun being a firefighter?
Ok so now for the not so great stuff. Full disclaimer once again. These things are a matter of opinion based on my own experiences so far in this career.
So ask around, do more research and form your own opinions If you are considering a career as a firefighter.
You don’t always get to sleep…like at all.
Now this may seem contradictory to what I was saying above but emergencies happen randomly and are unpredictable. So crazy long nights do happen.
Personally I’ve had shifts where I did not sleep at all and I was so fatigued I had to nap before I could drive home from work.
Now this is all subjective to what department you may work for and what unit you are on. But when these nights happen they can really suck and make your following off day a drag because of being so exhausted.
To be clear I mean physically high impact. Firefighters are no strangers to back and leg injuries. Just the bunker gear and air back is an additional 45 pounds.
That’s not including any tools that you might need to carry and trust me, if you are not carrying at least one tool or dragging a hose line then you are doing it wrong.
With all that gear on ever step you take is slightly less coordinated and heavier then without that gear. Making the risks of injuries and accidents that much higher.
Best advice to be had here is learn good posture, step carefully off the truck and hit the gym.
high hazard risk
Well this the kind of obvious one when it comes to the downsides of the job. Incase you didn’t know fire is hot and that gear we are wearing is fire resistant not fire proof. But that’s not the only hazard.
When something manufactured catches fire it will let off toxic fumes and gases. Some that are even odorless. That’s why its so important to have the proper gear on.
Then their are hazmat situations, vehicle accidents with us walking close to traffic and possible infectious diseases on medical emergencies.
Now a lot of risk can be mitigated with proper equipment and decon procedures but the risk is always there.
You have to see some things that are pretty rough
Its certainly not all sunshine’s and rainbows. Sometimes you got to see some pretty awful things. Whether it be gruesome or just downright sad. Not everyone can be saved in every situation and you get called to all emergencies. This is what we call a bad call.
It can most certainly be a high stress job. Once a 911 call comes out the clock starts ticking. Whether its response times or somebodies mortal clock is speeding, you are always on the clock.
This makes the stress facture go up substantially especially with the stakes being so high. Then their are calls that are extremely out of the ordinary and you know that legality will get involved.
Also having to document everything carefully to CYA gets very taxing because of the fear of missing something.
PTSD is too real
Okay now…this is the least talked about con for people that dont work in the industry. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is extremely present in this job and to some degree everyone will have to deal with in this career.
No war stories here but I’ve been in situations that required me to take leave for a month and its tough. Some things you see, smell and feel can’t be undone that easily.
It can effect you well after the experience and given the chance take a major toll on you. Luckily Fire Departments are creating and providing more resources than ever to help with overcoming these situations.
Well what do you think?
Now that I’ve ironed out some expectations of this career I hope others can take this and create thoughts of their own pertaining to this job. Its a passion that I love and those pros have always beaten the cons in my experience. Wouldn’t change it for any other career.