If you have been doing this job long enough, then you have had a time that you didn't love the job the way you used to. Why? Do you remember? Was it administration? The crew you were with? Changes in policy or the way your department does business?
What did you do to get past that time?
Did somebody help you, and what did they do?
Did your officer help you? What did they do to help?
Please share your information. You may not think it matters but someone could be looking for an answer. Share your story. I will leave mine soon.
Thanks for reading,
Yes, still love it. A lot has to do with crew. They can make the shift fun, elevate your game and help you get through some of the rough times. Favorite time of the day is at shift change, coming and going. Administration can help make the job or break-it. I've seen both, fortunately I'm with a pretty good one right now. Changes, no riding of the tailboard, moving the SCBA's from there cases back in the cabinet and to a location where you would don and use them. PASS devices, Incident Command and TIC's. I'm sure there's more, but the minds getting slow and doesn't remember as well.
I would say such a topic delves beyond the simplicities of the question asked, especially for those who have done and are still doing the job. Foremost is the personal aspect for an individual, what they personly view things, how the job and life affects them, is it a career, is it a job, is it a hobby? All of which plays a part. Then there is the aspect of those around you and how they can influence opinion, mindsets, and the job as well. For these issues it doesn't matter if one is career or volly.
There are pros and cons to this job, just like any other and partly my reasoning for replying is to put some personal realistic spin to perhaps some "I love the job" aspects that most likely would follow such a topic. So when using the word "love" one should be viewing the perspective in the realities of the word. What I mean is it is easy to confuse infactuation with love, be it in a job or in a personal life. So like a couple who has been married for a short time, their opinion, mindset, and experiences will differ from a couple married many more years. So like life, in the job, there will be times to test the "love" of the job, there will be aspects of the job that are not liked, but must be done, and sometimes the "love" can be lost.
In the fire service I would say in general terms that most people that truly want to do the job will have a certain love for the job, regardless of the obstacles faced. Those who may have less enthusiasm are those looking for an image, or those who want to just see if they can do the job. Those looking for an image find that the realities of the job tend not to be the same as what the image is, yet still are a member just to say they are a FF. You typically see these folks who seldom show up for training, fundraising, gone shortly after a rig gets back, but are there for the "fun" calls. You don't see these people turning out for the shitters and pukers calls, but there for a possible structure fire or mva. On the career side of things, you see similar aspects, from those who just wanted to see if they could do the job, but don't last because again the realities don't meet the image they thought.
When I was a volly I can recall being very eager and excited to be doing the job. Quite simply much of that aspect was because call volume was low, but station life and working with other interns sharing the mindset. However, my drive and goal then was to become a career FF and my passion was to obtain that goal. Whereas there were several regular vollies who had other jobs and lives and committments and there was a disparity from those who seemed to love the job more, you could tell the ones looking for an omage, and you could tell those who may not have really cared too much for it. During this time though, leadership was great and was the key. There was no younger FFs doing cleanup etc, because everyone had to do it and when you have everyone working you see better work relationship. Yet there were still those who rarely showed for training yet made it for any fire call.
From a career standpoint, you see things differently and for most of us, the aspect of the "married life" stands out more. I will say I have had, still do, and most likely will always have a passion and love for the job......I have just viewed things differently. I call my job a career because I worked hard to obtain it, I like the work I do, and I like that I make a living from it. A "job" on the other hand, to me is a place to go to pay the bills.
So while I would say I love the job and that it is my career, I would be lying if I said there are not aspects that try that relationship. I will say I have seen good and poor administrations and that really can have an impact on morale and crews. Yet administration is just one aspect of things to. Of course a chief and admin who stands up for the FFs will tend to garner more respect and appreciation from crews, on the career side of things, there is the elected official impact as well.
Some of the most trying times, especially for career FFs, is the aspect of elected officials and policy. While I can have a love of the job itself, some of the most trying times stem from the results of elected officials and the attacks on FFs and other public workers because of some trumped up bogus rhetoric or agenda. I will honestly say for myself, to hear such an elected official say they respect the job I do and so forth, I see lip service. If they truly respected me and the job, they wouldn't be looking to keep cutting what I earn and even those coworkers I depend on to even go home. In the political times we see right now, are the worst when it comes to "love" of the job. It strains such a relationship to care for something that is dissed consistently because of voices and rhetoric and the simple fact people can't think for themselves. Basically it is easy for BS to be said without a clue as to the job at hand........yet so many general public buy into this BS.
I will say from a personal view, another aspect that complicates the love of the job, especially in the political realm, are those retired FFs with the "I got mine" attitude. The same FFs who may have had a career playing cards all day, sitting around, not training and so forth and believe that is how things are done today are idiots. These are the same folks speaking BS about the job because they think things are still done they way it was when they were on.
Something else that tries one's patience is the type of calls that lead to bitterness. Once again those who have done the job before really haven't seen the same type of calls most of us do see today. In the past many people would go to the hospital on their own for many issues, yet today we see more frequent use and moreso, abuse of the 911 system. From drug seekers to calls that don't really need 911 intervention, to some internet diagnosis and so forth. For those who don't run EMS or don't get too many calls, this may not be an issue, but when you are running many such calls, they do wear on you.
I could easily keep going on for issues that do try the patience and the love of the job, but again, it is about perspective and to view such a topic like a marriage. Those that have done the job for awhile will have a different perspective than those who haven't. Just because a FF may hope for a quiet night doesn't mean they lost a passion for the job, it means their perspective has changed. Mine did. I recall times I hoped for the tones to drop so I could go on a run.....and even moreso for a fire so I could do some work. Today, I don't hope for such calls, because that means if someone has to call you, they are having a bad day. For a fire, it means potentially even worse. Now, it is more the aspect that I love the job, I hope for quiet nights, and if a fire comes in, it occurs on my shift. I don't hope they occur.
In the end though, the biggest factor I personally see, stems from a lack of appreciation and even moreso, blatent attacks on FFs and other public workers, without having a actual concept of the job done.
You summed it up nicely, John.
Well thought out response John... and as Jack said, sums it up nicely.
Well, without sounding like an echo John. Well Done!
I am looking at 31 years and soon to retire (January). I still have a passion for the career. Yes, there are days when it seems like a job to me but in the end its what I do and have done for 31 years. I love the interaction with my fellow brothers and sisters to be there and help others. It is the Bureaucracy and Politics as John said that takes the gleam off of the joy that is what we do.
As a kid that always went to the firehouse with my father and grew up with about 100 "uncles and aunts" that all helped raise me and watch me while my father responded to calls, I can truly say I see a big difference in the service through my volunteer career.
The brotherhood is what i see that has changed, and the family atmosphere you used to see at the station but has slowly been changed. I remember going to the firehouse on Saturdays with dad, sitting in the day room watching TV with other firefighters, both past and present, and listening to the discussion; There was always a member planning on building an addition to his house asking for help that he never had to ask for to begin with, because there was always a group of firefighters that would show up with tools ready to work. The big thing here though is they did it without expecting anything in return, or without using it against that brother in the future. There was always discussion about helping each other out, whats going on in the next few weeks, who needs help. There was always kids at the firehouse, everyone brought their kids, and all of the members participated in making sure they were safe and watched out for. You didnt have to worry if your kid wandered off; there was always someone watching them.
Today...not the same. I brought my daughter to the station with me to help me wash the trucks for an upcoming parade. We were alone, until one of the commissioners showed up. He chatted with me a few minutes and never said anything to me about my daughter other than kidding with her about helping me and what not. He leaves and a few minutes later the chief is calling me on the phone asking me if I had my daughter there, what she was doing...I finaly just asked her "Did so-and-so call you just now??" She was silent than chuckled and said yes, he called her and complained that I had her there.
At the next meeting he tried to make it a By-Law that no kids were allowed at the firehouse other than open houses and fire dept functions with adult supervision...
I had a son in 1998, he was born premature and we had all sorts of health related issues and were always at the hospital. My son never came home, he lived at the hospital with feedding tubes, breathing tubes, oxygen tents, and he was diagnosed with miller-dyker syndrome, a rare condition found in premature babies...He passed away 2 days before his second birthday. Not once did a firefighter call us, visit us, visit my son in the hospital, send us things, or even just show they cared. My co-worker from the factory I worked in brought us dinner one night, a full 2 course meal for the 5 of us and told us to call if we ever needed anything...He did more than any of the 35 fellow volunteer firefighters that knew of our situation. Only 2 of those "brothers" showed up to the funeral. I was devastated and couldnt believe the lack of support from my so-called "second family".
Today there is too much legal issues, too many laws and codes and standards to screw up, too many people watching us from behind closed doors waiting for us to screw up so they can make sure we pay for it with bad press coverage and publicity. There is no family any more, atleast from where I am looking, there are only "Cliques", and if you are not in one, you dont exist.
Above all, I still love what I do, I still feel tremendous pride and satisfaction in helping others, and I love sharing that with my daughter and listening to her talk about it with her friends. The family may have changed to a dysfunctional family, but I will always love what I do and always be there when they call me to help.
I will answer your questions but I want to preface it with a statement. The problem with many is that they expect their job at the fire department to be perfect, every day fun and exciting, and always challenging. When the reality appears that someday's just suck because of mindless rules and regs, fellow firefighters that spend more time on their second job during the work day than their so called first job, calls that just seem, well....ludicrous in nature, fellow firefighters that leave tools, equipment, and the rig filthy and in disarray, drivers that can't be bothered to fuel the rig, and so on and so on, some times that can be too much for some to handle and their attitude suffers. As for me, I do my job, I take care of ALL of gthe hand tools in my station, not because I was told to but because it is the right thing to do and kind of therapy for me. My rig is usually spotless, unless we have a night time call, and I know every piece of equipment on my rig. I can't control other's attitudes an work ethics, but I for damn sure can control mine.
If you have been doing this job long enough, then you have had a time that you didn't love the job the way you used to. Why? It is entirely because of the political atmosphere. The animosity of parts of the citizenry towards public workers, including firefighters, is disheartening to say the least. Do you remember? Was it administration? The crew you were with? Changes in policy or the way your department does business? I still love the job. I do love the challenges of the different calls. But I also like the sameness of working with the same crew, the same rig, the same area.
What did you do to get past that time? It is tough because it is a growing dissent among a high profile political group right now. I just come in and do my job.
Did somebody help you, and what did they do? We all support each other.
Did your officer help you? What did they do to help? He stresses doing the job and not letting that animosity get us down.
I still love the job but my job has changed.
On my career department, as a rule I am no longer heavily involved in interior operations. First of all, it's a simply a matter of getting older and realizing that I no longer can do what I used to do on a regular basis. Secondly, we have a very young staff of career and volunteer personnel that want to be interior, but more importantly, need to be interior every chance they get as we are seeing far fewer working fires than we did even 5 years ago, and they need to get that experience whenever they can. There is simply no need for me to be in there when I am only a few years away from not operating on the fireground at all.
There are still times where a limited response will require me to be involved in active operations, but those times are very limited as our volunteer base provides excellent staffing at most incidents.
On my volunteer department it's a very different story. We have a small department of 5 officers, 6 interior firefighters and a half-dozen drivers and support personnel. The firefighters are very young and extremly inexperienced, so the 2 Captains and myself (LT) need to be interior with them to guide them. Would I like to be interior less? Yes. But that's not the situation that we have been dealt. Until they gain experience they will need leadership interior, which means that unless I give up my position, that's where I will have to be.Luckily we see very few (less than 3 ) structure fires per year so it's not a frequent occurrence, but it is something that can be more taxing than it was 10 years ago and certainly something that I see only a few more years of.
I am more involved in training than I ever have been - especially at my VFD, which by and large I enjoy, but I am frustrated that many young people simply do not have the dedication to go out and practice skills on their own after a lesson to perfect what they have been taught than members did 20 years ago.
As far as the family and brotherhood atmosphere of the fire service - yes, that has changed. Recently, my 3 year old grandson was hit by a car and killed. The outpouring of help offered by both my combo department and volunteer membership, as well as the calls and cards I received from mutual aid members was quite impressive. In addition, the members or my combo department collected money for a fund that was established to help with expenses, and the amount was very impressive. As a rule, I agree that there is less brotherhood, but this one recent event did tell me that there is more brotherhood in the fire service in this area than I would have expected.
As far the issues with the public, we have yet to have them in this area. In fact, as recently as 2 years ago there was enough public support for fire and police in the neighboring city to vote them raises. The anti-public employee wave has yet to hit this area.
What difference would the anti-public emplyee/fire department sentiment make there when you say most of the FDs are dirt poor now? What is the public going to do demand the FDs pay them? The how there anti-sentiment by not funding the FDs properly there.
As long as I am physically capable I will go interior. I am 53 and it seems to me the ones having trouble keeping up are the young guys following me. When I am incapabe of going interior any longer it is time to retire from it all an walk away.
This sentence: The how there anti-sentiment by not funding the FDs properly there.
Should read: They show their anti-sentiment by not funding FDs properly there.
I thought we were referring too employees, as I was referring to the departments that are all a career or combo beyond 1 or sometimes 2 personnel.
While I am sure that there are some citizens that view fire department, and probably law enforcement personnel as over-paid with too many benefits that is not how the majority of the taxpayers feel. I really think the only thing that would upset many taxpayers would be the clause in the civil service law where we get paid for most off-duty injuries that prevent us from working up to 364 days. Even to me, that's a little bit unreasonable and should likely be taken away. Even the vacation time is fair, IMO. Even in the two larger cities in this area where the pay is somewhat better than in the combo fire departments in the parish, I really have not seen or heard much of the anti-career sentiment.
As far as the "dirt-poor" departments in most cases, the communities show them great support. It may not seem that way to you, but in just about all cases, the community is financially supporting them to the best of their abilities. The problem is the tax base simply does not exist for any more funding and/or the citizens simply, by and large, do not have the income to support any additional tax burden. They are generally 100% beyond the fire department but the community simply does not have the ability to give them anymore than what they have.
As far as going interior, I lost most of my zest for that within the past few years. part of the reason is physical issues, and part has simply been a lack of need. Well, that was until I joined the VFD a little under two years ago. I have been spending most of m,y effort the past 10-15 or so years in public education and juvenile firesetting, so while I still attend suppression training classes now and then, most of my training time is eaten up by prevention and education training. I have pretty much had my fill of active firefighting. It's time to let the kids take over.
My need to do the actual physical work of firefighting is to serve the citizens of the communities I serve. Despite the best efforts of Pub Ed, and Fire Prevention, buildings still burn, people still need rescue, and firefighters still need to go inside where the fire actually is located.
Because I am still physcially capable of doing the job I will do it. I see going inside with the younger guys as 2 fold. One is to help them learn the job during actual incidents, the second is I have all those years of experience doing the job why not continue doing it while I am capable.