“Your job must be scary. You run into burning buildings.” people say when they hear my job title of firefighter. I try to explain that I drill and work as part of a solid team where everyone has a job to do and that if everyone does their job, my job isn’t all that scary. Dangerous, maybe, but scary no. But there are things that scare firefighters.
Powerpoint presentations: I believe that everyone hates these. Right? But firefighters hate them extra bad. We know that we are about to be bombarded with important information. However, I have never met a firefighter that isn’t a hands on learner. If you want us to remember something let us touch it and do it. Showing us prepared slideshows isn’t going to cut it.
Dogs: Your dog may be a 100% happy angel with you, but we don’t know your dog. Please lock up “Princess” right after you call 911. She doesn’t know me and when we walk in with our bulky gear on and start touching her owner she gets concerned. She may show that concern by biting.
Computer work (paperwork): Holy crap man. I got promoted to Captain and I’ve got tons of paperwork! I write down every call in one book and type up every report in the computer. I also write down and type in my line up every day (and whenever during that day that it changes) as well as our training and activities. I do daily and monthly reports on my probationary firefighter and driver and semi-annual and annual appraisals on my firefighters and drivers. So when the Chief asks me to type up an extra letter about what happened on a certain call I cringe and write it.
Station chores: Waxing the floors, shoveling, and mowing the lawn are the top ones that come to mind. I’m pretty sure we don’t care for shoveling and mowing the lawn because these are things that we do at home as well. At least that’s why I hate it. Frequently I shovel to get ready for work and then shovel at work. And I swear every time it’s our shift’s turn to mow the lawn it is either hotter than the surface of the sun OR raining. There is no in-between. Waxing the floor is a day long production no matter how you do it. Honestly, the hardest thing is locating the floor machine and the accessories to accomplish the job. By the time you actually do the job you have been thinking about it for weeks and just want to cross it off the list.
Cancer: Our job is to keep you safe, but historically this means that we neglect to do the same for ourselves. I have seen a culture shift and we are keeping our air tanks on longer to breathe clean air while working and overhauling. No one wants cancer and no one wants to think about it much less talk about it. In Minnesota firefighters are helping to lobby against flame retardants that can cause cancer. You can read more about that here http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-firefighters-seek-action-on-stalled-flame-retardant-bill/302031251/
Back injuries: We want to do our jobs for a long time, but more than that no one wants to be 35 (or any age for that matter) and disabled because they were lifting an extremely heavy person. It’s the reason why I’ve started trying to master the dead lift.
I’m know that I don’t speak for everyone, but those are the top 6 things I’m scared of in-between running into burning buildings.