Saturday, February 20, 2010

What is it like to be a Fire Wife?

So, I realize that even though this blog is entitled FireWife, I don't talk much about that aspect of my life. And for the most part, being a Fire Wife is much like any other. Work, take care of the house, take care of the kids, etc.

But there are some things that are unique.

The Hours:
FireMan works a 24/48 shift. This means that he works 24 hrs, then is off for 48 hrs. Period. No holidays. If your 24 happens to fall on Christmas, so be it. So this is something that all fire families have to adjust to. Once every three years (that's how it falls) your husband will miss such-and-such holiday.
Then, there's the second job. Firefighers don't make a lot of money. It's not terrible pay, but... let's just say that FireMan took a 40% paycut the year he became a firefighter. That's a big adjustment. So many firefighters have second jobs.
FireMan's second job he does on his first day off. So that increases his time away from home to 32 hours. Are you following?
And for us, right now, FireMan is also in paramedic class. Which is the evening of his first day off. So, this increases his time away from home to 36 hours. Still following?
So in our house, the "normal" work schedule for FireMan is 36 hours gone, 36 hours home.

The Image:
Now, this part can be kinda fun. I mean, my husband's a firefighter, right? Pretty hot.  Pretty sexy. Right? Well, yes. It is. But there did come a time when I was pretty tired of every. single. woman. I  told about his profession responding by saying "Firefighter's are so hot!". Yes, my hubby is hot. Yes, part of me is glad that others think this too. But sometimes you just want to keep that to yourself. Does that make sense? I mean, there are actually women out there, usually called "Badge Bunnies" or the less-nice-sounding "Firehouse Whores" who throw themselves on firefighters just because they're firefighters. And yes, this is a real thing. Although I should note that Badge Bunnies will often also be interested in police officers as well. Nice, huh? Oh, and in case I'm not being clear, no they generally don't really care if the firefighter is married or not. This... is really annoying. Other women throwing themselves on your husband is only flattering for so long.

Okay, so the hours, that's annoying, right? And the whores, that's annoying too, right? It's all an adjustment. But livable. It makes things difficult at times. A lot of the time. But it's doable. But then there's...

The Scary Stuff:
Like when FireMan first took this job, and called me to ask me my physical work address. You know, so if he dies on the job the chief knows where to go to notify me. Like in the movies, you know? Where the chief notifies the wife in person? They actually do that.
Or when FireMan had to purchase life insurance, and make his funeral arrangements. Yep, they actually require them to do it. What does that tell you about the risk?
Or any number of times when I'm on the phone with him while he's at work, and I hear the tones go off, and he says "That's us. Gotta go. Love you". And all I can say is "Be careful. Love you too". And I know that my husband is off to potentially put his life in danger.
Or the one time when we had that phone call, and I told him to call me when they got back. And he hadn't called by the time I went to bed two hours later. And he hadn't called by the time I woke up in the morning. And he wasn't answering his cell phone. And no one was answering at the station. What would you think? What horrible thoughts would go through your head? He ended up being fine, but those hours that I didn't know.... awful. Horrible. Scary.

A a result, I don't watch many fire movies. I'll watch Ladder49, up to a point. Then I change the channel. I don't usually watch or read news stories about firefighter fatalities. Not because I'm not concerned, but because my mind can't help wandering thru the what-ifs. What if that were my FireMan? And I can't help but sympathize with the families. Empathize. Whatever it's called when you can't help but break into tears because you feel a miniscule part of what they must be going through. The last time I watched a news story about a firefighter fatality, I sat on the couch, frozen, unable to move, sobbing. I stayed that way until FireMan came home. I don't even know how long. Over an hour, I'm sure.

So.... that's it in a nutshell. It would be impossible to describe everything here, but you get the idea. I don't know what else to say. So there you go.


Steph said...

Thanks for this post! I wondered what it was like to be married to a's one tough job!

Cynthia said...

Ugh about the Badge Bunnies. I dated a couple of paramedics (at different times)and yes, they do exist, and yes, I wanted to kick every one of them in the shin - really, really hard. My sympathies on that aspect, it isn't one I miss.

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