You know, when I met the Husband, he was a computer geek. He did computer things. I didn’t understand what he did then and frankly I don’t really understand it now. But he worked in computers. Four years into our relationship, he decided that he wanted to apply to be a firefighter.
Ever the supportive individual, I encouraged him to pursue his dream job.
When we moved into our home in 2005, we learned that the volunteer department in our community was hiring. Figuring it would be a good way to learn some of the job and get involved in the community, he applied. And got hired.
That’s when the real fun began.
It has been ten years now since that October he started training. A lot has changed. We’ve learned a lot. And there are a few things I’ve learned as a fire wife that I would share with rookie wives. Or spouses. This is from my perspective as a wife, but I would imagine it’s applicable to the Fire Husbands as well.
10 Things from Ten Years as a Fire Wife
- The gear is heavy. Like OMG, heavy. And I am forever tripping over it. If it’s not the boots, it’s the helmet. And I’ve been asking him to build something to hold his gear for the last ten years but he hasn’t had time because….
- When you think they have time to start a project, that will be the time that the pager goes off every night, twice a night for a minimum of three nights so that they are so exhausted by the end of the week that they’ve forgotten what it was they were going to start.
- You have not seen dirty until your spouse comes home from a fire that has kept them out for 8 hours.
- When they do get home from a fire that has kept them out for 8 hours, send them directly to the shower and pray that the gear stayed at the station. Because wow, that’s a smell.
- You learn fairly quickly how long each type of call takes. In general, a medical call is an hour, a car accident is around 90 minutes (longer if extraction is required) and a working fire…well cancel his plans for the next 8 hours or so and set things up so that you can handle whatever family obligations you need to solo. If he gets home sooner, bonus.
- There will come a night that he comes home and says “It was bad“. I pray that it takes them the 8 years it took us, but just in case, I highly recommend reading up on the signs of critical incident stress and knowing the phone numbers to call if they need help. Better to be over-prepared in this case than under. I can not stress this enough.
- Go to the get togethers. The Christmas parties, the barbeques, the community events they participate in. Get to know the other families at the station. They are a wonderful, caring network that can not be matched anywhere. Attending these things allows you to see some of what they contribute to the community. Which makes those middle of the night calls easier.
- There will be middle of the night calls. A lot of them. Believe it or not, you will eventually get used to the pager. It will likely still scare the bejesus out of you 9 times out of 10, but now and again you will sleep through it. And that will be disconcerting too.
- Holidays. Sigh. Holidays. Do you know that for the first three out of four Mother’s Days I had, the pager went off at 4am? And my little dudes did our thing by ourselves because that’s what you do. And you know what? It really was kind of cool. Don’t get me wrong, I teased the Husband about it, but it was nice to get up and hang out with my boys. The way I look at it, someone else needs him more than I do that very second. So I can either accept it, or I can resent it. And frankly, life’s too short.
- This might be their calling, but it’s a family endeavour. It will affect family life. It will be disruptive. And yes, it will be inconvenient. But at the end of the day, it is so worth it. Promise.