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What I wish the public knew about firefighting

You can’t always believe what you see on TV or the big screen; here’s a roundup of what firefighters wish the public knew in order to separate fact from fiction


Some said they wished the public knew that firefighters often take tough calls home with them, while others pointed out that firefighters don’t do the job to be called heroes.

Photo/Joe Thomas of Greenbox Photography

We’ve all seen it before — ordinary people believing they know the ins and outs of the fire service because of what they’ve seen on TV or the big screen.

And, if you’re like us, you’ve yelled at the screen a time or two when Hollywood actors run into a burning building without SCBA or can see perfectly in a smoke-filled room.

That’s why we asked our Facebook fans what they wish the general public knew about firefighting. Some said they wished the public knew that firefighters often take tough calls home with them, while others pointed out that firefighters don’t do the job to be called heroes.

Check out some of the responses below. And if you missed adding your “wish” on the list, sound off in the comments.

  1. “That you can’t see your hand in front of your face while doing interior ops, and that SCBAs do not make your voice crystal clear.” — Chris Corbett
  2. “The ghost of what we’ve witnessed follows us home.” — Aaron Cadwell
  3. “There is so much to do in the office to keep the department running: budget, grants, little things that take up time, certification process for everyone, trainings, planning, etc.” — Amber Kuettel
  4. “I wish people understood that owning a business is 24/7. So is being a volunteer. But one pays the bills. It’s nearly impossible for anyone to make 100 percent of training and calls unless they don’t have a job. But owning and operating a small business is even more trying to balance the scale between home, work and fire department.” — JW Shue
  5. “That we actually don’t do it to be ‘heroes.’ We just have a sense of duty to our community. Also, at least for me, it’s still very awkward when someone says, ‘Thank you.’” — Steven Andrews
  6. “It’s not all glory or couch time. It’s hard work, dedication, [and] missed birthdays, first words, first steps, Christmas, anniversaries. It’s sleepless nights. It’s stress both at work and at home. It’s aching backs and joints. It’s detrimental to your health. It’s increased cancer risks. It’s not for everyone. Yet after all that ... it’s the best job in the world.” — Travis Katen
  7. “1. Each shift (typically) collectively creates a pool for meals, no tax dollars required. 2. All of those ‘days off’ often involve a second job.” — Zane Atencio
  8. “I would like them to know the cost involved to purchase and maintain all of the equipment and training, plus, the regulations that require the equipment be held to standards. Also, how often it needs to be replaced and why.” — Vivian Boaz
  9. “We’re all human. The horrors that we see have to be compartmentalized so that we can keep serving our communities. The hope we all have for a positive outcome on the next call. The feeling of satisfaction when you are able to make a difference in someone’s life. That we all do this for others, not for ourselves. I wouldn’t give up being a firefighter for any amount of money.” — Robert Pontius
  10. “The price we pay to do the job – it’s physically and mentally demanding. PTSD is on the rise and so is suicide amongst firefighters. We truly do pay the ultimate sacrifice doing the job to protect our fellow man. I retired four years ago and I live with physical and mental issues every day. And I will until the day they put me in the ground. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. It was the best time of my life.” — Chad Hall
  11. “Being a volunteer firefighter is more than just volunteering your time. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a passion. It’s a calling. Whether you’re career or volunteer, the pride and duty is all the same.” — Julian Peck
  12. “What it is really like to be a firefighter – and not what they show on TV.” — Warren Valentino

“The Question” section brings together user-generated articles from our Facebook page based on questions we pose to our followers, as well as some of the best content we find on Quora, a question-and-answer website created, edited and organized by its community of users who are often experts in their field. The site aggregates questions and answers for a range of topics, including public safety. The questions and answers featured here on FR1 are posted directly from Quora, and the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of FR1.