So, you want to be a firefighter? Maybe not. Before you become one of us, we want you to know what you do not. We cannot offer the pay or benefit packages of more typical employers. That's why we're called "volunteers." You should also know that you "volunteer" to belong - everything that follows in the fire service is "mandatory". It has to be. The services we provide quite literally involve life and death; including your own.
Fire departments are not social clubs. The days of the "good old boys" are gone. It has to be. Buildings burn with more intensity, hazardous material content and the risk of collapse is greater than ever before. Other organizations exist to fulfill your "party needs."
Belonging will be time consuming. Training. More training. Always training. Firefighting is a "gamble." The only means you have of placing the "odds" in your favour is education. Knowing how fire burns, clues of colour and smoke, building construction and ALL the other things that must be learned may save your life, and the lives of others.
It takes time to respond to alarms, do your duty, and then get all the equipment and tools of the trade back in service. The work doesn't end when the fire goes out. Time is needed for vehicle and station maintenance, fire prevention, inspections, investigations, record keeping, public education, parades and other community services. Time...The fire service requires lots of time.
Firefighting is physically demanding. Not all the time - just each time you step foot on the apparatus to answer a call. Your heart pounds, adrenaline flows, and if you are sane, you are also scared. You'll wear almost 50 pounds of protective equipment. While wearing it, you will pull, push, climb, stretch, carry, lift, crouch, crawl and breath harder than you thought possible. Smoke and soot will become your cologne. You will learn a new meaning of what it is to be truly "cold", "hot", "sore", and "tired". You may bleed, you WILL sweat, and sometimes you will shed tears.
Firefighting can be ugly. It can be blinding bright, or blinding dark. It can be deadly silent, or have a deafening roar. You will see suffering and carnage in fires and emergencies of the future - like those before.
So, you still want to be a firefighter? Then you might make it. You can make it; many have. The "bad" in firefighting is part of the "good." It is what makes us different. We do what others cannot. If you become one of us, you'll share challenges, comradery, and when we're successful, and sense of accomplishment that is second to none.
Your family becomes ours; and ours becomes yours. In our breed, you will experience an often strange sense of humour and you'll develop pride. Not boastful, bragging, cocky pride; rather an inner pride known only by those who have worn the gear. You will develop a respect for your co-workers across the nation, and their job, that exists in no other profession.
It is often said that "firefighting gets in your blood."
That's not true.
If you become one of us, it gets in your heart.