Is it just me or do some people not take this job seriously enough?

I am by no means an old hand at this job, but it seems that lately incoming firefighters don't quite seem to realize that our profession is, in fact, a dangerous one. I get that many people join the department for the camaraderie, evenings spent around the bar telling stories, or just to be able to tell a girl in a bar, "hey, I'm a fireman." But I feel that some people join without taking into account the risks involved in being a firefighter.

Last saturday, I was doing a shift down at the ambulance squad and we were called to the fire academy multiple times to attend to students in the FFI class. Each time it wasn't ever trauma or injury, it was all calls for chest pains or difficulty breathing.

I am not a fitness expert and I could stand to lose a few pounds myself. However, I can distinctly remember going through firefighter one and having an instructor take me aside and say, "look, this isn't to insult you, but it never hurts to improve your cardio. you're neither too heavy or too out of shape, but you're at risk. I'd recommend hitting the gym." It was at this point that I decided to get my ass to a gym. I'm in better shape now and I notice it during fire ops when I hear other people's vibralerts going off and seeing that I still have half a bottle left.

Back to my story, we transported one guy who was a couple years younger than me. He dropped while pulling a charged 1 3/4" line down a hallway. I was told they hadn't done any evolutions prior to that. En route to the hospital I just kinda explained to him the same thing the instructor had said to me before. I told him the same things I'd heard about "if you're dropping here at a drill where they can turn off the fire and have several people pull you out, it's not a big deal. But, if you drop in a working house fire, not only are you in trouble, but your team and the guys that have to go in and find you are put at risk." I just kinda got a shrug and a roll of the eyes.

Some of the firefighters that went down to the convention this year have taken to calling it "The NJ fat fireman's convention." and have made remarks about never seeing so much tonnage on the Wildwood boardwalk.

I'm sure that this has been a problem before I joined the fire service and will continue to be a problem after I'm gone, but these are just my observations.

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Comment by Jim Hardwick on September 1, 2010 at 8:44am
You're right, people join the volunteer ranks for all the WRONG reasons. 1 out of every 5 or 6 that join aren't really the least bit interested in the firefighting aspect. They look for the social perks of the volunteer fire department, some even pay. I personally do NOT agree with having a BAR in any fire station, especially if the fire station is funded by taxpayer money. Alcohol can also pack on the pounds on anyone not to mention the fact that when one is inebriated one cannot function and firefighters need to function at top capacity when not only fighting a fire but responding as well. I certainly hope no one DRIVES your apparatus while engaging in some beverage tasting at the BAR. Firefighting is a young mans job and if you are out of shape at a young age then just wait till you're in you 40's.
Comment by blair4630 on November 22, 2009 at 1:02am
I agree, fitness is both for our safety and the safety of our teamates. In many departments, mine included, you're fit if you want to be, or 100 lbs overweight, no one's going to pull you off the truck or hold you to any standard. The example you bring up is very valid...if someone can't take the physical exertions in a training evolution, they shouldn't be cleared to run in an actual fire, for the reasons mentioned. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like this in many areas, and does create a dangerous situation. Congradulations on your new found fitness and keep up the good work.

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