Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Fire Chief is Not Welcome at My Home

At least not pulling up in his department vehicle unannounced, in his dress uniform, accompanied by FireMan's captain, during or shortly after FireMan's shift.

FireMom's recent post reminded me of one of the hardest parts of being a FireWife. Which is why I never talk about it. I rarely think about it.

FireMan's job could kill him.And not in that anyone-could-die-doing-anything-at-any-moment sorta way. In the no-really-any-time-the-tones-go-off-he's-putting-himself-in-harm's-way kinda way.

I remember, shortly after he got his job as a full-time firefighter, so excited after so many years as a volunteer, so excited to be getting paid to fulfill his dream... one day he called me at work, so non-chalantly.

He said he was filling out paperwork for his personnel file, routine stuff, and began asking me questions. Name, date of birth, social security number, etc. Routine stuff.
Cell phone, work phone, alternate phone, physical work address (not mailing address, physical location)

Wait, what?

I laughed. Why do they need the actual physical location of my work?

It's so the chief knows where to go.

See, it's just like you may have seen in the movies.
If a firefighter dies in the line of duty, in most departments (all that I know of, really), the chief puts on his dress uniform, at least one other fire officer joins him, they get in the chief's department vehicle, and notify the next of kin in person.

Thanks for calling me at work, hunny (as I start crying at my desk). Timing is not always FireMan's strong suit, that's for sure.

I managed to compose myself to get thru the conversation.

We got thru that, and moved on to the rest of the "routine" personnel questions.

Choose another firefighter to accompany the chief to notify your wife of your death.
If you choose, please name your religion, place of worship, and any clergy you wish to be present in the hospital, or to preside over your funeral.
Would you like a formal firefighter's funeral & burial, or a citizen's?
Would you like to be buried in the firefighter's memorial cemetery?
Please select up to eight (8) men to act as pall bearers at your funeral

There were more. I know there were, but they escape me now.

We finished the conversation, as if it were nothing, I hung up, went to the bathroom, and bawled.

I don't know that every department does things that way. I'm certain that many husbands answer those questions without telling their wives.

But I'm glad that FireMan's department does. And I'm glad he included me in the answering of those questions.

Even if the memory of that conversation is a stark reminder of the danger he faces every day. Even if it means that a little, itsy bitsy party of me resents the Fire Chief, just because I know that if the God-forbid ever happened, he would be the one to tell me.

And no, Chief, you are not welcome at my home. Or at my work. At least not in your dress uniform. Not accompanied by another fire officer. Not in your department vehicle. Not unannounced. Not during or shortly after FireMan's shift.

LORD, Father, Abba - may that day never come

1 comment:

Steph{anie} said...

I got tears in my eyes just reading this post. I hope and pray you never have to experience any of what you just described.

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