May 21, 2014

Being a Firefighter Wife

Danny has been a firefighter since 2007, during our senior year of high school. He was on a volunteer department at the time we started out relationship. I say relationship because it was a hang out with each other, then we dated, then we broke up, then we started hanging out again, then we broke up, then we got back together for good. High school relationships are complicated, ya know? Anyways. Basically being with Danny meant I would be a firefighter's girlfriend. Having known zero firefighters personally (with the exception of my HS softball coach, but we never talked about his real job)

Almost every time I get asked what Danny does for a living, the other person responds with "Doesn't that make you nervous?" My answer is always no. No, I don't get nervous that he willingly runs into burning buildings for a living. I just don't. He took the necessary classes and has mandatory training every so often. It doesn't scare me. Plus, I can't spend 24 hours, 3 days a week worrying about the possibility of my husband getting hurt. Because guess what? Just because he is at the fire station doesn't mean life stops. That is especially true now that we have a child. Now if we lived in Chicago, or New York, or California with the wildfires I might be singing a different tune. But we don't. Big fires don't happen that often around here, but they do happen. And I do get a little freaked out when he comes home and tells me how he was standing on an awning of a porch. I can't remember if he said it felt like it was going to fall, or it did end up falling, or what. I probably subconsciously chose to block that part out. Because like I said, life doesn't stop. And that is what this is about. All those little things that firefighter families have to get used too, think about and deal with.

1. You have to be ready for plans to change in the blink of an eye. A few years ago Danny and I had just gotten food from Taco Bell (because we've always been super healthy) and as soon as he grabbed the bag, his pager went off. Instead of having a parking lot date like we used too, I was unwrapping his food while he was shoveling it in his mouth and I ate my nachos at the table at the fire station. This happened more often when he was on the volunteer department, but it does still happen. That man loves his overtime. Let's not forget when that pager goes off at 3am.

2. Some holidays are spent alone. During Danny's probationary year after he got hired full time he worked the following holidays: Valentine's Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Years Day. This is part of why I like to make Valentine's Day a multiple day event to make it special. Our first Christmas together my gift to Danny was cooking his favorite dinner and making his favorite cake. I literally cooked and baked all. damn. day. What happened as soon as I set the plates on the table? His pager went off of course. Off he went and he was gone for 3 hours. Christmas got put on hold.
3. Even if those holidays aren't spent alone, that doesn't mean he will feel like participating. It was our second Christmas together and Danny worked Christmas Eve. They were up all night long. Literally, all night. Holidays are stressful enough as it is, but add in not sleeping? I had never dealt with him being up the entire night and having plans the next day. Rightfully so, he was grumpy and I got my feelings hurt. Now? I'll just go to Christmases and things without him. Its better for everyone :)
4. You gain some independence and you learn to love your "me" time. If you don't, you go nuts and the worrying that I talked about in the beginning will get to you. I always try to make my plans with my mom or my girlfriends on days/nights that Danny works so that when he is home we are free to do whatever. That doesn't always work out, but I generally try to do it that way. This also makes surprises easy. I made an entire scrapbook of every single call Danny went on his probationary year. It took me months, and he had no idea I was doing it.
5. As much as you have to learn to be independent, you also need to know when to ask for help. I shit you not, the last 3 times I've gotten the flu, Danny has been at work.  He doesn't do puke so it's probably for the best. I will never forget the first time I got it and I walked out into the kitchen and found Diesel standing on the kitchen table. Didn't just have his front paws on it looking to see what was up there. Literally, whole body, standing on all fours on the table. I gave no shits and knew that I needed to call Danny's mom. She walked in with Gatorade and out with the dog. Another time I needed help was when I had my cyst after Tucker was born. Danny had to go to work the first really bad day and I knew I wouldn't be able to make it a whole 24 hours (at the least) without someone else. I called my mama and she came running.
6. You're always thinking about plan B. This was especially on my mind towards the end of my pregnancy. "What happens if my water breaks and you're at work?" I could call the station directly. "What if you're on a call?" Call Dad or Deidre (his sister). "What if it's snowing. They'll be at the hospital already" (his dad worked for the hospital doing the outside work and his sister is the OB floor manager) Call David. Granted a lot of that thought process had to do with pregnancy hormones and worry, but still you get the idea.

Those are just a few of the things that I've learned or dealt with in the last 6 years. Sure there are days where I wish he had a regular old 9-5 and was home every night and on the weekends. But I wouldn't trade this set up for anything and being a firefighters wife is really special. The day Danny got sworn in, his dad, who retired from the same fire department, took me to dinner and looked me straight in the eye and said "Are you ready for this? It's not going to be easy" He was right that it wasn't going to be easy, and there are still days that it is hard as hell, but I still love it. It doesn't hurt that he looks pretty damn good in his bunker gear either.


  1. I was raised in a house where my dad as a vol. firefighter and my mom was an EMT. I had uncles that were vol. firemen too. all family gatherings if one pager was going off they all were. it was crazy, sometimes we were left alone until my aunt arrived to watch us (she only lived across the road). now my one brother is a full time fireman in st. louis and another going to be a paramedic. my first husband was even a fireman. i decided when i started dating again that i was going to rid that lifestyle and as i did i picked up the farmer lifestyle.

  2. It sure does take some special men/women to be in the position of being such a hero and also for spouses like yourself to be so strong, understanding, and independent if need be! My ex step dad {weird to say that...} was a firefighter and paramedic. I lived with him and my Mom for almost 18 years. It was definitely not an easy thing to deal with in the household although other times it was such a proud thing! I remember exactly what you mean about holidays and always having a plan b!