I've been in the fire service as a volunteer for about 20 years now. At the ripe old age of 52 I wonder when it's time to pack it in. How do you know when it's time to step down? I can't see myself as a former firefighter!

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I don't know the answer to that question Brother. I'm 43 and I've been doing this for 16 years now, and I can't imagine NOT doing it. Realistically, I know that day will come, but I just don't know how I'll deal with it. Good luck and stay safe!
I joined when I was 15 (volunteer) and at 45 I walked away. I know you can't retire from a volunteer company buts pretty much what I did. I stop at the fire house once in a orange moon. People still stop by and tell me all the stuff thats happening at the fire house and I listen to Livefeed. The first couple of times it was hard listening to the engines going out or to the radio during a worker. After 2 years I'm good with my descion.
Well, I started in January 1975, I was 24. I still like going to work, I get excited when the next day is at the station. I do not plan on deciding when to retire until I am 65. I am still fit and can do the job. It is up to each person, if you like it, stick with it. I have people ask me why I don't retire, I could have drawn a pension 10 years ago. I tell them I get to ride in a fire engine and go to peoples crazy assed emergency's. Be sides, the fire service is my hobby too! Hang in there if you love it, get out if you don't.
Thanks Jim-
I've always felt that way!
Thanks Brian-
I'm not there quite yet. I'm not sure there is any such thing as a "former firefighter"

be safe!

Well, I'm not saying that I'm there yet, but here are a few signs you might be nearing that time...

When you catch yourself dozing off in the right seat on the way to a multi-alarm structure fire.

When you are conducting an interior search and you realize those things rattling around in your mask are your dentures.

While on the same interior search, you find yourself in a bathroom and realize you need to go...AGAIN.

When the newest engine in your company was made the same year your youngest grandchild was born.

When you start to claim Friction Loss as the reason the toes of your sneakers are always wet.

I'm sure some of the other old farts experienced firefighters on here can add some as well!
Paul and others reading this post... I have a much different take on retirement having worked in both EMS and the Fire Service since 1973... Damn, that's a long time when you write it down, making my career close to 38 years. When I started out with EMS, all that was required to work for the ambulance company was an advanced first aid card... that's it. As the EMS delivery program matured, I grew up along with it, eventually certifying as a Los Angeles County Paramedic. I actually met Roy and Johnny at a party right after finishing up my internship and working for about a year in the field. I was 22 years old then, starting out at age 18. I share this background to provide a foundation for what I am about to share.

My only reason for retirement was medical. Not my idea but after 38 years, things just wore out. You can't expect to be busy and not have things take it's toll. When the decision was made for me by a county doctor, both my wife and I agreed to get a body scan. You've heard of them, maybe less than $100.00 for a "Full Body Scan". Ever think about doing getting one done?

Body Scans: I knew absolutely nothing about body scans, but never the less, went out and had one done considering that it was free for me, paid by the Los Angeles City Firefighters Insurance policy that I have. What I did not know about body scans was that the technology used is over 10 years old, which translates to a "picture" taken every 2.5 centimeters. The "proprietary software" puts together the pieces and and "fills in" the blank spots. This translates into >90% false positives. That 99% blockage in your coronary artery might in fact just be a stretched computer interpretation, which is what happened in my case. The other concerns are the amount of radiation put out by these older MRI style machines. Risk vs. benefit... I choose to have the testing and am glad that I did. Also, make sure to bring a CD so you can listen to tunes during the lengthy process.

Note: Make sure that when you get your body scan that no loose metal things are hanging around the MRI scanner. Believe me, I thought a lot about this as the MRI scanner made it's pounding noises...

Now you can all be paranoid like me... lol

Now that I have mentioned the body scan thing... I need to mention in this conversation the importance of you being truthful to yourself. Don't fool yourself, this IS a young person's job. It's not that you can't do the job, it's more a matter of your being willing to trade off longevity and possibly your life if you decide to stay past your time. Again, risk vs. benefit.

If you are over the age of 55, and still find it necessary due to fiscal reasons, emotional, ego, whatever... please make sure that you are medically checked, including blood work and a stress ekg to confirm that you are healthy, sans any surprises on the fireground. Keep in mind that as a Hazmat Specialist, I underwent very extensive physicals every year that included blood work for heavy metals, stress ekg's... the works... And guess what? It wasn't until I underwent the body scan that the cardiac problems were discovered which led to a day with the cardiologist which included all the testing that showed only 40% blockage, not more than 90% as the body scan suggested. For me, the good news is that through diet, exercise, and some cardiac meds, my chance of stroke or heart attack has been significantly minimized.

So, I share this very personal information with you all to ensure that you ask yourself the right questions. Please remember that you cannot be selfish when making the decision to retire or not. Why? Because other peoples lives may depend on the decision you make.

Paul we never retire!! I am The Old Guy in my Company. Had been out of service for years. Could never stop to help someone in need. I left after a whole family was killed in a auto wreck. A mother,father, 2 children. The Mom was due any day so a count of five lost. When I had Heart Problems the Firefighters were there for me. When I got back on my feet I had to give back to all the wonderful and Brave Fire Fighters!! But I always had the thought of said by many, You never take the A Firefighter out of anyone. You have to know if it is time to get out. Good Luck and God Bless!! Hope I did not ramble to much for an Old Guy!!
Hey Cap'n,

I can't say I agree with you 100% on this one. While I DO agree that I tend to leave the interior attack to the youngsters, without us old dogs acting as engineers and support staff, most of the "young men" in this game would be Tits Up by next Thursday! So I'd have to say that "this game" has roles for all ages!

Now where did I put my helmet...and my glasses...and my teeth.


Mike, you are a scary, scary man. LMAO at the photos, brother!
Your media sources never cease to amaze.
It's kinda what I do... gotta love those graphics!
I would imagine that at least for me (age 46) When I can no longer operate in a safe manner, assist my fellow brothers during an incident, or that I seriously notice that I cannot keep up with everyone, then its time to hang up the gear. But maybe I can still assist at the fire house with other things. I am with you on the point of being a former firefighter, just cannot see that, Yet.

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