Reasons to be a Fire Fighter
Everyone has his or her own hobbies. Something they can do to relax, something that they enjoy, that something that when you’re doing it, it takes your mind off of everything else in the world. For some it is golf, carpentry, fishing, fly tying, or other things of the sort. I have quite a few hobbies myself- hunting, fishing, rock climbing, and scuba diving…. But one of the things I do stands above the rest, it’s more of a lifestyle really, and that’s firefighting. Firefighting is something I got into at the age of 16 as a Camden City Explorer. Through this program we worked o building qualities such as leadership, community service, reliability, and other qualities teens should develop as they reach into adulthood. Most kids quit the program at 18 and went on with their life, but not me. Once I turned 18, I was no longer able to be a part of the Explorers, but I wanted more. I had fallen in love with everything firefighting was and stood for. In June of 2014, I joined my local volunteer Fire Department. This article will go to show the reason why I am so enamored with the lifestyle which I have chosen, and present reasons that others should consider when looking to become either volunteer or full time firefighters. The article will be broken up into three sections speaking of A) Brotherhood, B) Community Service, and C) The Enjoyment of being a fire fighter.
“If you were to take a firefighter and strip them of their badge, remove their turnout gear, peel their skin back, and remove the organs, the brotherhood is that small fire that continues to burn inside of them.”
When I left for Clemson University, one of the first things I noticed on campus was the Fraternities and Sororities. Groups of like minded people gathered into groups to share in camaraderie and good times, making friends that would be with them for life. During the week preceding spring rush, I walked throughout different tents talking to the various Fraternities trying to gain pledges to join their organizations. As they gave their sales pitches, I heard everything from “We are looking for pliable minds to mold into the people that (Insert Greek Letters) wants you to be”, to “Our fraternity will turn you into the man that society craves”. I am not at all trashing Greek Life on campus, as I have many friends that are very involved with various Fraternities and Sororities, but I had already found a brotherhood much stronger than any Greek Organization. In my “Fraternity”, we trust each other with our life. There is no time for drama, as a job has to be done. The men (and women) in my fraternity will blindly follow each other into hell and have your back the entire way through. The name of my Fraternity is Charlotte Thompson Fire Department. John 15:13 states “Love greater hath no man than to lay down his life for a friend”, and I have no doubt in my mind that inside the fire or emergency situation, anyone of my brothers or sisters would die in my place without hesitation, as I would for them. It is not uncommon to hear stories of firefighters calling a May-Day (a radio call of distress put out when a firefighter feels his life is in danger) and there brothers running in after them, despite having gone into the house 4 or 5 times already. Despite their mental and physical exhaustion, they are willing to blindly risk their life for there brother, even though their training has taught them to never do so. As the saying goes, there is no brotherhood greater than that forged by fire. But the strong bonds developed in a fire department aren’t left at the fire scene. Members of the Fire Department often help each other with everything from yard work to being in each other’s weddings. Some of the most trusted friends I have serve with me on the Fire Department. A Fire Department is like a big family, and everyone in it is a brother or sister. And the brotherhood isn’t limited to someone’s home department; all members of the fire service share this bond. I remember a dive trip I took to lake in Tennessee. Being in Tennessee, it wasn’t exactly easy to find a dive shop, but we eventually found one some distance away. When we arrived, we had some of our empty cylinders filled, had some lost equipment replaced and got to talking with the owner. After a little while of talking we came to discover that we were both Firefighters. As it got late and we went to leave I pulled out my wallet to pay the owner the $160 I owed him, but he wouldn’t take it saying, “I don’t charge family.” This story just goes to show that the brotherhood between firefighters runs between departments, and even between state lines.
Community Service is without a doubt the most important part of being a firefighter. In rural areas, the local volunteer fire department may be the only emergency services available at a time when they are most needed. Volunteer Fire Departments act as not only as a means of extinguishing fires, but often they are also the medical service in their designated area. Sometimes, a hospital maybe 30 or 40 minutes away, leaving medical emergencies such as heart attacks, seizures, and strokes for a certain group of firefighters called Medical First Responders to attend to. These First Responders are trained to deal with most medical emergencies ranging from trauma to heart attacks. When help can be so far away, these men often are the difference between life and death. In Cities where housing may be spaced very close together, it is the job of firefighters to prevent a kitchen grease fire from escalating into a 4-alarm blaze that could wipe out entire city blocks. Many times, firefighters will come onto the scene of a fully involved structure fire, only to find that victims are still stuck inside. In these cases, the firefighter must run into a situation that prevents dangers such as severe burns, building collapse, or in the worst case, a flashover such as the one that killed the legendary Charleston 9. While others are running out of the obviously dangerous area, the firefighters are running in, risking their own lives to save the life of someone they don’t even know. When asked about their exploits, the firemen will never call themselves heroes, as it is their job. Nobody joins the fire service to have an easy nine to five with the same schedule every day, they join to save the lives of those who cant save themselves. But not everything the fire department does involves a dangerous, life-threatening situation. Fire Departments all across America have raised over $530 million dollars for Jerry’s Kids; a charity of the Muscular Dystrophy Association that helps children affected by Muscular Dystrophy and nearly 40 other neuromuscular diseases. It is common for communities to host events known as “battle of the badges”, where firefighters, policemen, and paramedics compete in a blood drive to see which department can give the most blood. This can provide the life saving transfusions necessary for the very people that they save from car accidents or fires. Most city Fire Departments also have what are known as Explorer Programs, much like the one I was involved in as a teen. These programs teach youths in the community important values for life as an adult while also providing training that will be useful if the participant decides to go into the fire service. It just goes to show that most members of the fire service don’t join to become heroes in other people’s eyes; they join to protect the lives of the people in their community.
Some of the most fun I have had has been at the fire department. From time to time, the department will get together just to hang out and have a good time. The first Monday of every month, the Fire Department gets together for the annual business meeting. A member cooks, we all tell stories, and get some of the more official things taken care of. Twice every year, our department puts on a BBQ (a ham sale at Christmas and a community picnic in the spring). All the members gather at the community smoke pit, set up cots and hammocks, and spend the night cooking. Its some of the most fun I have had, as its usually filled with pranks at everyone’s expense and a whole lot of talking. Events like this are what bring us closer and turn us into the family that we are. And these events aren’t just for the firefighters, everyone’s family always shows up, bringing the kids, the parents, wives, the really are for the whole family. Its not only the jokes and stories that make being a firefighter fun, there is just something about helping people that makes it more enjoyable than anything else in the world. Whether its something as small as helping a lady get her keys out of a locked car, its still helping someone and I have yet to find a feeling in the world that compares to helping someone in need. Oh, and the fire trucks. Those are definitely fun.
If you want to be a help your community, have a good time, and most importantly save lives, then consider firefighting. Yea, it can be a little bit scary at times, but when you realize why you do it, it makes it all worth it. If your looking for the closest brotherhood there is, than you should definitely consider the fire service, as the people you come to know would give you the shirt off your back just for the sake of it. If you’re to young, check out the Explorer program. Available to kids between the ages of 16 and 21, it’s a great way to see if your interested in a career in the fire service while learning great life lessons and wholesome values. If your past the age limit for explorers, go to your local city or volunteer fire department. Many departments are willing to do ride alongs for prospective members, and these can really let you know if it could be something your interested in. All in all, there is nothing more enjoyable and fulfilling than being a firefighter, no question about it. But fair warning, once you become a firefighter, there is no turning back, because you’ll never want to stop