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What is it like to be the spouse of a firefighter?

Check it out and add your own thoughts in the comments


A question posted recently on Quora asked, "What is it like to be the spouse of a firefighter?" Ben Urwin, a father, husband and firefighter, gave his opinion on the topic below. Check it out and add your own thoughts in the comments.

Hardly a day goes by that I don't hear about how my job negatively affects my wife's life.

I don't think that the "high risk" nature of our work is a major stress for most spouses though. My wife doesn't sit around the house worrying about me while I work any more than I sit around the station stressing that I could be "4 minutes away from Hell..."

As has been discussed in other threads, although there is always the potential for serious injury or death, it doesn't happen nearly as often as it seems from television shows or media reports. There are plenty of jobs that are far more dangerous than firefighting that most people would deem "safe." Certainly if a major event were to occur, like the recent explosion in Texas, it would be very stressful waiting to hear from a loved one who is on-duty. Otherwise, I think most wives get used to the idea of us spending our days running alarm calls, medical calls, the odd contents, and structure fire, and do not worry too much about it.

What is hard on the spouse of a firefighter is the long absences. My department doesn't work 24-hour shifts. We are on a 10-14 hour rotation. I find that worse. My wife feels like a single mother for 2 weeks every month. When I do my long stretch, I work the Friday and Saturday shift, Sunday 24-hour and then Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night. I am back in on Monday for four days.

When I work days, I am not home in time for dinner, bath time and most nights not for bedtime. I am gone in the morning before anyone else is up. When I am on nights, it's worse because I am present during the day but exhausted and needing to sleep. It takes a couple of days after coming off shift to catch up on sleep.

The spouse of a firefighter has to step up and run the house almost single-handedly most of the time. It is hard making plans with other couples who have more conventional work hours, because I am unavailable two weekends out of four, and they aren't around on Wednesday afternoon when I have some free time.

Women love to date firefighters, and often love the idea of being married to them, but there's a reason there are so many more ex-wives of firefighters than there are current wives.

It's a long, tiring grind. Once the glamor wears off, and reality sets in, it's not for everyone.

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