Day in the life of
Firefighter – Thomas Zheng
Being a firefighter is the best job I have ever had. I would rather be at the station than be at home, and I consider my crew literally my brothers.
Look at the job going in as a high stress janitor… We wash trucks, work on gear, and clean the station all day, with adrenaline fueled interruptions spaced throughout the day.
Sometimes you don’t sleep because of calls, sometimes all you want is a call. If you don’t like coffee now, you’ll learn to love it. You will see people die, people you know will die. You’ll save lives, you’ll regret not saving some. Sometimes you will go home at the end of a shift and cry. Sometimes you don’t want to go home at all. It’s a brotherhood, it’s a lifestyle, and it becomes your identity.
To become a municipal firefighter, odds are you will need to go through a short academy training class. For our academy, it is 8 weeks of 9-5 days learning your basic skills as a firefighter (for us, the certification is called Basic Operations Firefighter). Never heard of an academy where you live on site, all have always been a commute or staying in an area hotel if necessary.
After you finish and report to the station, you’re earning your place and the respect of your coworkers for your probationary period. Some departments are harsher than others, but some things that seem to be common all around….so you most likely will need to be proactive on the chores, and spend the day learning. No time on the couch, and you should be on the apparatus floor going over tools, rigs, procedures, etc. Doing dishes, scrubbing toilets, etc.
No one is putting out as many fires as we used to. But, if your department does EMS or even just assists them, that will be a sizable chunk of your call volume. Otherwise, car accidents, alarms, water leaks, cats in trees (yes we have done it), gas leaks….anything the public thinks is an emergency or can’t handle themselves. You’ll do lots of unique things, that’s for sure.
- The benefits and perks, Municipal Departments will take care of you. Health, Dental, Family, etc.
- The rewarding feeling of helping people and animals in need.
- A lifelong bond with your coworkers, something you won’t find in any other profession.
- You get to see a lot of action if that’s your thing.
- Low requirements to get the job.
- The pay isn’t all that great, though some municipalities pay higher than others. Many do not though.
- You unfortunately will sooner or later need to deal with the tragedy of losing someone you knew…and many you did not know. There is a feeling of guilt whenever injuries occur and you feel that you could have someone prevented it
- The hours are not always pleasant. You also might miss a holiday with your family every now and again.