By Anne Gagliano
It’s easy to focus on the negative when talking about “work.” Work is, after all, not play—and play is always more fun. And sometimes it is necessary to pursue the problems with firefighting, the difficulties, the dangers—so that they can be identified and improved upon. But it’s just as important to stop once in a while and focus on the positive, to re-examine and remember what is so good about firefighting, if only to keep a thankful heart, as a thankful heart is a contented one. Being a firefighter and being married to a firefighter truly is a blessing, and here are three reasons why:
Firefighters love what they do. This is no small thing. Many people simply trudge through their work day with grudging acquiescence, tolerating, but not loving what they do. Sadly, lots of folks even hate their jobs and live lives of quiet desperation, dreaming and wishing for a way out. They’re bored, tired, distracted and disinterested in the drudgery of repetitive, meaningless tasks. But not the firefighter; they show up alive and alert, excited to face a day where literally anything can happen. It’s exciting; it’s challenging; it’s never the same. It’s physical, athletic, invigorating. Adrenaline flows, hearts race, lungs expand—firefighters know they’re alive. This job offers many avenues; if you’re not happy at one station, you can move to another. You can ride a truck, you can ride an engine, you can ride an aid car. You can work in the alarm center, or you can investigate arson. You can promote. You can be a driver. You can be part of special rescue teams. The opportunities are nearly endless; the variety offers something for everyone. And the schedule is different—sometimes it’s a little hard on sleep, but you can work big chunks of time and have big chunks of time off. This is more positive than negative for the whole family. When you live with someone who loves what they do, you grow to love it too, for enthusiasm is contagious.
Firefighting provides a real sense of accomplishment. There is nothing meaningless to firefighting. Firefighters save lives. They save homes. They save pets. They show up on peoples’ worst days and make them better. They restore order to chaos. They return the dead to the living. They get to see positive results from their actions. They are respected and appreciated by the public, and though they don’t need it, it’s nice to know. At the end of the workday, they feel proud of what they’ve accomplished and glad for having shown up. Firefighting is a noble calling from God; it is for those who are willing to sacrifice themselves to save others. This devotion to humanity, this service to the community is something a wife can truly respect, and respect always makes marriage stronger. And firefighting is something children can be proud of as well.
Firefighters get to work with amazing people. Yes, firefighting is dangerous. There are risks, extreme risks. But firefighters don’t work alone; they work with highly trained, effective, capable people who together, side by side, reduce the risks to manageable levels. The job is less dangerous because of the person standing next to you. Deep trust forms when you can put your life in another man’s hands and know it will be safe there. Firefighters get to experience teamwork on levels most will never comprehend; in many occupations, people work in isolation or competition where the co-worker can even be the enemy. At the firehouse, firefighters become more than just fellow employees, they become family. They cook together, they eat together, and they play games to see who has to do the dishes. They pull pranks on each other. When one is injured, the others call, send texts, and even forward encouraging articles like, “Why Red-Heads Feel More Pain” (firefighter humor) as Mike’s crew did when he was on disability. They make each other laugh. They cheer each other up. And they are truly sad to see each other go when someone is transferred away or retires. It takes a special kind of person to become a firefighter; when you do, you have the pleasure of being surrounded by such people. Extraordinary and amazing, caring and strong, fun and enthusiastic; who wouldn’t want to work with such people? And what family couldn’t get behind such co-workers for their loved one?
So be thankful, firefighters and firefighter families; you are part of the finest profession in the land. It is work that is enjoyable, it is work that has meaning, and it is work that creates true brother and sisterhood. For these reasons and so many more, firefighting truly is a blessing.
Anne Gagliano has been married to Captain Mike Gagliano of the Seattle (WA) Fire Department for 27 years. She and her husband lecture together on building and maintaining a strong marriage.