I realized last week that I have left out a large chunk of my life from this blog....for those of you who don't know I run into burning buildings. I've been a volunteer firefighter for 9 years, but I've been around the fire service my whole life, literally.
There is a picture of my dad feeding me a bottle while sitting on the front bumper of a fire truck and some of my earliest childhood memories are of my sister and I helping my dad at the firehouse on Saturday mornings. Even though I marched with my girl scout troop I always rode to the Memorial Day Parade on a firetruck.
I'm a firefighter because my dad, along with numerous uncles, set the example (for a while growing up i thought Santa wore fire boots, because in our family he did). At first I thought that joining the fire department when I turned 16 would be a cool way to get to spend time with my dad without my mom or sister being around but I soon discovered the unique satisfaction of being able to physically help someone when they were in need, and I was hooked.
Of course there's the adrenaline and sense of brotherhood which are pretty cool too, but the ability to bring order and safety to a chaotic and dangerous event is what I love most about this work. I love it so much that I went to college to study Fire Science to learn how to do it better.
My "paying gig" is as a fire inspector. This means that I get to stop fires before they start through reviewing building plans for code compliance, inspecting buildings for fire safety, and my favorite part, educating others about simple steps they can take to be more fire safe and home, work, and school. And then if a fire does happen, we get to investigate where and why it started. I like my job; I LOVE fire prevention. I love when people ask questions and learn stuff they didn't know before, stuff that might save their or their family's lives.
The pictures from last week are from the National Fall Firefighters Memorial. On average the US kills over 100 firefighters a year, leaving behind broken families and grieving communities. In 2008 3,320 civilians lost their lives to fire and direct property loss due to fires was about $15.5 billion. Many of these fire could have been prevented.
Check out http://www.firesafety.gov/ to learn more about how you can take steps today to protect your family from fire.
I love being a firefighter, I love wearing the gear and riding in the trucks. I love being of service and seeing that look of appreciation. I love showing off our trucks to little kids and seeing the awe in their eyes. I love the exhaustion and satisfaction that comes after fighting a fire. I love my fire department family and the unique bond we have....but honestly I would be so much happier if we didn't have a job to do. If there was a way to eliminate fires I would give the rest of it up in a heartbeat, but until then I'll keep doin' my job and praying for the safety of those I serve with and those we are serving.