One of the most common questions I hear as a firefighter is, “What is life like at the firehouse?” That’s a great question and although there is no such thing as a “common day” at the firehouse, there a few everyday activities and routines that I will tell you about. The best part of this job is that no two days are exactly alike…believe me.
The work day starts at 7am. The first thing I do when I arrive at the firehouse is find the person who I will be relieving. What does that mean? Well, I relieve the person who is in the same spot on the truck that I will be in. So if someone is driving the pumper, and my assignment is to be the pumper driver, then I relieve him. Basically, he tells me all about his crews’ shift and if there are any important things about the pumper that I will need to know. Once I am done talking to him, he goes home and I put my gear on the truck. My gear consists of bunker pants, a coat, helmet, gloves, and mask. I check the SCBA that I will be using on the truck to ensure that the air bottle is full and all of the gadgets on the airpack are working correctly, including the alarm that sounds if the airpack is on and I don’t move. It is a built in safety device. If I get in trouble or injured on a fire scene, the alarm will sound so other firefighters can find me and rescue me…god forbid.
After I complete getting all of my stuff on the truck I head to the kitchen to make some breakfast. Yes, all of my meals for the next 48 hours will be at the firehouse. We make our own breakfasts and lunch. Dinner is a group effort and everyone pitches in to make a delicious dinner. I usually drink a cup of coffee or two with breakfast to get going and watch some local news. My breakfast of choice is usually eggs and yogurt. At 8am, everyone meets at the kitchen table to discuss the plan for the day. We usually discuss what the training for the day will be and what buildings we will be inspecting that shift. We perform building inspections at every business in our district on a yearly basis to make sure they are compliant with all fire codes. It is a great way to meet the local business owners.
After our morning meeting, we go out to check all of the equipment on the truck. This includes chainsaws, K12 saws, portable lighting, rescue tools, and the hydraulic pumps on both of the trucks. We have two trucks at my firehouse. One is a pumper that is also referred to as the engine. The other truck is a 75 foot ladder truck with a retractable ladder on top that extends 75 feet into the air. This is considered the “truck” and is used for fire suppression and rescue. It is an enormous truck. Once we complete the truck checks, we go to the fuel pump to make sure our trucks have plenty of fuel. Then, its off to the store to buy the things we will need to make dinner.
Throughout the course of the day, we will perform the already mentioned inspections, train on our firefighting skills, and run calls when they come in. We typically run between 5 and 10 calls a day between medical calls and fire related calls. We also run on a good amount of car accidents in our district.
Dinner is the final part of the day. We all eat together and then have a cup of coffee while we watch the evening news. We call it “family time”. After family time we clean the kitchen and then the rest of the night is up to you. Lots of the guys watch movies in the TV room while others retreat to their bedrooms to try and get some sleep before the next day when it all starts over again. Personally, I work on my part time job as a financial consultant. I advise people on their personal finances and even assist with the occasional small business loan. Its something I picked up in college and provides me with a great second income. That’s another thing about being a firefighter that I love. The schedule allows us to pursue other interests in our off time or take on a second job. Most of the guys at the firehouse have at least two jobs.
Well that’s just a little about what a typical day is like at the firehouse. Please let me know if you have any questions. Talk to you soon!