7 parts of a firefighter's day the public doesn't think about

Upon returning to 24-hour shifts in the firehouse from a 40-hour desk job, I can tell you that there are several parts of a firefighter‘s day that the public might not expect. 

7. Chores

Every morning after a cup of coffee and a briefing from the station officer it‘s off to chores. Since we live in our workplace we also have to care for it. When I went to England to ride along, their stations were cleaned for them. Not here.

Here we call them firehouses because they are houses and we live in them. Toilet scrubbing, floor mopping, towel washing, and all the other chores must be completed before we start our day.

6. Grocery shopping

Keep in mind we cook all our own food and have to go shopping for it during the day. Lunch and dinner are sure to be a hit since all firefighters can cook and some very well. There is no greater compliment as the cook at the firehouse than a silent table (everyone is eating).

5. Firehouse tours

Often the community outreach folks will schedule a school group to come by for a tour (good thing we cleaned the station, right?). The kids will see the radio room, kitchen and apparatus floor. Some houses will even put the engine in pump and let the kids squirt water while mom fumbles to capture the perfect Facebook picture.

4. Training

A good friend of mine told me his fireman dad used to say, “They pay me to be ready.” And he is 100 percent right.

We need to get at least one drill in a day that could include advancing a hose line through the firehouse and flowing water out the door, searching the store room for a mannequin to drag out, medical scenarios or even a mass casualty drill. This is in addition to all the continuing education we are required to complete, of course.

3. Inspections

Knowing the neighborhood before an emergency is essential. At least a few times a day we will roll by a large building or set of apartments, climb out and perform an inspection. We‘ll check exit doors, extinguishers, public access areas, pretty much an all hazards evaluation of the building and forward any findings to the fire prevention bureau.

2. Physical training

In addition to our fire training, we‘ll need to hit the gym or get a run in sometime in the afternoon if we can. It sounds like a luxury, but if we skip gym time we may not have the strength and energy to be as effective at our jobs as we need to be.

1. Chief in quarters

As a paramilitary organization, the firehouse (company) is supervised by a company officer. A number of companies are formed into a battalion and that battalion is supervised by a chief officer.

When the chief officer arrives, all members must stop what they‘re doing and report to the radio room to address the chief by title and hand salute. We do, it‘s tradition and respectful) The battalion chief will bring us up to speed on road closures, department news, and information for the day. They may also order us to a battalion drill later, regardless of whether or not we‘ve already done a drill.

You‘re probably asking yourself, “But Justin, what about 911 calls? Don‘t they interrupt your day?” My answer is no, not at all.

Calls for service are my day. The things listed above are all the other things I‘ll do until the bells ring and we have a call for service. These seven things, even though they seem like interruptions, make us better at our job so that when you need us we‘re at our best.

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