Hello everyone. I'm new here and am about to start firefighting training next week. Eventually I will be a firefighter/paramedic. I have some questions about raising a family while working as a firefighter. What happens if you decide to start a family while working as a full-time firefighter? What are your job duties like while you're pregnant or would you have to take a leave of absence from the department? This is my only concern about my career choice and I don't know of any female firefighters in the area whom I could discuss it with. I would love to hear your stories and am open to advice. Thanks a bunch. :)

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Hi Denise,
I have the same concerns. I'm in LA where I've passed the physical exam, the written exam and now I'm prepping for the oral interview. I have a 20 month old son and the thought of a 24 shift, 24 hours away from my husband and child is really a major concern. I combed the discussion groups for family success stories and like you, I'd really like to hear from women firefighters that can really share the pros & cons of being a firefighter while raising a family.
Thankfully, my daughter is grown (and I am a volunteer) so I do not face this issue, but I do want to say that I have the highest respect for those of you who manage to juggle this career and raising a family.
hi Denise! Congrats on working towards being a firefighter!! I have been working on this issue of pregnancy and light duty for a while in my department. I have a child who is almost 14 and don't plan on having any more, but this does not mean I don't see what the others go through when they are pregnant.
There are many trains of thought on this and I will give you mine as well. Firstly, i would never suggest that women today can not "have it all" but in some occupations there have to be some concessions. All I will say about this is be smart about your decisions, plan your pregnancies well and remember, this isn't a desk job where you can keep your skills up at home, so stay involved and stay fit.
Secondly, we have had an issue for a long time with women being on light duty when they are pregnant, they basically go straight to admin. They may send an email once or twice a week and do some filing. it is painfully boring, and of course paying someone to do nothing is always counterproductive. Being on the job for a year or two and becoming pregnant gives you very little options aside from this kind of light duty. You aren't in a position to instruct, and you can't do any of the other jobs that may put you in harm's way, such as air management or maintenance. I think if you realize this, there isn't going to be a lot of issues.

The smart thing to do (I"m not likely being very articulate today, sorry, so tired... haha) is to ask what is available, not now, but when you are pregnant. See if there are any options for you. If possible, wait a few years as well to gain the respect of the lads before starting a family. I know your mat leave there is a lot shorter than ours here, so you aren't going to be off the floor for over a year (potentially... if you take your full mat leave here, you will be off the floor for 20-21 months... bone of contention with a lot of the guys and some girls with retaining seniority and writing for officer eventually with very little experience).

As for raising children while being a firefighter... it's awesome. I am a single parent, so the timing was right for me when I got hired. MY daughter was old enough to stay home alone in our secure apartment building and she's become incredibly responsible and independant as a result as well. It would have been very difficult when she was younger to find a daycare provider or babysitter for the night shifts (we are 10/14's with one 24 Sunday a month here), but other ladies on my department with children say it's great because of all the time off. You will be able to attend more school events, more sporting events or anything else your children become involved in. With a spouse at home, you woudn't likely have to worry about the nights shifts for daycare, just the days you are working. Imagine the time you would spend with them as opposed to working 9-5, Mon-Fri! It's incredible (I've done both, this is fantastic)!

Anyway, best of luck with your training and as long as you feel the department out and the guys and know what is expected of you, things will be just fine. Everyone is entitled to having a family if they so choose, just don't rub the time off in anyone's face (not that you do, but I've seen it happen... it's not pretty)! :)

PS - there is a great group there in California that deals with women in the fire service, moving forward, recruiting, retention and families... I'll do my best to find it in the next couple of days and post it here for you! :)
hey guys! i am actually not a firefighter, but i really admire what you women do. i actually work in casting and am looking for ex-firefighter women who gave up their career in fire fighting to raise a family and be full time stay at home mom.

it's a really cute show on the TLC network, and i'm wondering if any of you brave ladies know of anyone who fits that description???
it is a really tough job, being a fire fighter and a mother at the same time. i am from a paid on call dept so it is really tough. i could get a call at all hours of the day and night for any kind of reason. so, having a sitter at 3 am in the morning when you pop a structure fire call..... yah, kinda tough. im single and doing my best but sometimes it seems hopeless. i am done with my training other than my medical stuff and it was a tough road but look at where i am now. that is what i think about. if i got this far, i can go all the way!
denise, i hope you have a good support system and i wish you luck in your future at your fire dept. strong women get far in the service. if you can raise kids, you can do anything. lol
Good discussion. I have no plans of children/family any time soon- but I've thought long and hard about what would happen if it came along 5 years from now... it's the only issue that bothers me a bit. Most departments around where I am are on 48's... which is awesome for a family... it's the maternity leave/light duty that I am curious over.

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