What is a Fire Wife?

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Being apart of the Fire Service as a Career is one half of the coin… the other half? Those who keep up with things while Firefighters are away.

It’s not talked about a lot in public, because Firefighters are seen as community heros, but the truth is that there is a lot of support behind the scenes.

And for most Firefighters, the one who holds down the fort is the Fire Wife. Like, they LITERALLY keep things safe at home so that a Firefighter can run off for 24 hours or 48 hours or 15 days to go be the hero to the community.

A Fire Wife is the keeper at home while her Firefighter is training, practicing or actively saving the community. Not only is she married to a Firefighter, but she is also married into the Fire Service Community. Most people in the public don’t realize how much Fire Wives do behind the scenes so that Firefighters are fully equipped to answer the calls. From caring for the kids, to managing the house, groceries, and budget; a Fire Wife is the secret sauce to mentally and physically healthy Firefighters protecting the community.

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A Firefighter Wife is…

It’s not just that a Fire Wife has cute tshirts (because it seems like you’re drowning in Fire related tees!), but there’s so much more to who a Fire Wife is and what her life looks like.

A Fire Wife, in a relationship with a Firefighter, picks up a lot of slack, does a lot of things on her own, and has to navigate the complexities of LODD awareness without going crazy.

And yes, there’s a lot of stuff going on, so much so that many books have been written about being a Fire Wife.

In the post, 9 ways you know she’s a Firefighter Wife, we dive into some of the nitty gritty things about what Fire Life looks like… but truthfully, that post is more of satire than the daily in’s and out’s of Fire Wife Life.

It doesn’t cover the parts about how a Fire Wife ends up responsible for many of the things at home (almost exclusively!) or how she will need to be prepared for schedule changes and holidays alone.

It’s a rare kinda lifestyle, because it doesn’t really fit in with what other First Responders go through.

While some firefighters deploy or have special missions, it doesn’t compare to what a Military Spouse goes through with longer infrequent deployments. Mostly because Firefighter deployments/shifts are shorter and can happen every single year or disaster.

And there’s always the threat of LODD’s, but most injuries for firefighters occur over time (there’s a buildup for ptsi and cancer!) unlike LEO families who stare down weapons on a daily basis.

It’s this weird in between life of a First Responder Wife- and I’m struggling to do the life justice with just words, especially when this quote from Chelsi sums it up so well!

A firefighter wife understands that being his wife, means making a choice to stay strong, be selfless, and that the needs of the many outweigh her own. It’s knowing that even though they are well trained, things can and will go sideways. It’s understanding that he may walk out that door one day and never return.

Chelsi, fellow Fire Wife & Co-host of the Dear Chiefs Podcast

A Fire Wife is a hero in her own right. Someone who makes it available for her fireman to take the time to do all the trainings, work all the crazy hours and holidays, and jump at the call for help- all to save a stranger and keep the community safe.

Responsibilities of a Fire Wife

Not only do many Fire Wives work (while many do stay home or have a side hustle), but they also carry a heavy load around the house.

The Reason?

Their Firefighter is often gone, or when He is home, isn’t always able to contribute. And that’s not a sexist throw-everything-on-the-wife-thing, it’s literal.

Many Firefighters come home from long shifts and are exhausted. Or they’ve just carried a lost child, a multiple vehicle accident, or a missed save and have absolutely no emotion left to give their spouse.

This means that the workload a Fire Wife carries will change from season to season, or even monthly, based on the workload of the Firefighter and what is happening.

Many Fire Wives are responsible for running the home, keeping up with finances, and making sure there is enough food- and then they receive sporadic help from their Firefighter depending on the shift/workload schedule.

All of these responsibilities can be taxing, but it’s why Fire Wives are essential to Firefighter. They wouldn’t be able to save the community and stay sane without the support at home. And it’s also why a Firefighter Wife must take care of herself through support systems, self care, and boundaries so that she can stay strong when all of these responsibilities pile up.

While a woman is so much more than who she married, when you are living the life of being with a Firefighter, it takes up a lot of time, energy and effort. In a world so consumed by ‘doing everything yourself’ it’s essential to note how much a Fire Wife contributes to the community/city/state at large when she makes things easier for her Firefighter to answer the call.

What other Fire Wives say about the Fire Wife Life

We asked on social media to find out what other women thought about the Fire Wife Life; Here’s what they had to say.

“A Fire Wife is married to a Firefighter. She either works or stays home, but She also manages things because her Firefighter isn’t always available with the Shift Schedule”- Ashley

“She is part of the team. It’s how a Firefighter has a family, because he has a Fire Wife making sure things are cared for while he’s busy with fire and medical calls”- Terri.

“What is a Fire Wife? She’s me. She’s you. She’s anyone that is holding down the fort because her Fireman is out there keeping the community safe.”- Barb

How does a Fire Wife Compare to a Fire Woman?

There are a few areas where we have some confusion over what is a Fire Wife and other titles.

Back in the day, police officers were called policemen. The same for Firefighters and Fire Men!

Now we almost unanimously call Firefighters… Firefighters- but before that, it really came down to FireMen and FireWomen.

So a FireWoman is someone whose actually in the career. My husband works with quite a few wonderful women… and we all refer to them as Firefighters.

I know that sounds like a giant circle of confusion, but while some people refer to our Heros by their gender, we prefer to use the more inclusive term.

And in a few rare instances, the Fire Wife is ALSO a Fire Woman, and they are a site to behold (some even brave enough to work at the same station!)

Confusion over a FIRE wife/F.I.R.E. Wife and a Fire Wife.

When I was first researching stuff about Fire Wives because I was married to a Firefighter, I came across a FIRE Wife (all caps). Now this was a few years ago when conferences were all the rage… and there was a ton of info online about the all caps acronym of F.I.R.E.

The all caps FIRE wife is one related to finance and has nothing to do with firefighting. FIRE is actually an acronym for… Financial Independence, Retire Early. So in this instance, a FIRE wife would be someone who was married into any career (she could be married to a firefighter) that has made financial decisions leading to independence and early retirement. It’s definitely something to be proud of, so I can see why they would share it, but it’s not the same as being married to a Firefighter.

Summary

A Fire Wife is married to a Firefighter, but more importantly, she’s the one making sure that a Firefighter can do their job. She’s a part of the Fire Family and an essential member of helping to support First Responders so that they can answer calls without being burdened by the immediate responsibilities at home while they are on shift.

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