A firefighter works a very unusual schedule. Often, firefighters are at work for up to 48 hours, and sometimes 72 hours. Sounds rough, but this schedule also allows for a lot of time off. A typical firefighter will only work 9 or 10 24 hour shifts a month. That’s right…20 days off! So what do firefighters do with all of their time off? Party? Ha. Maybe the young guys. But most firefighters have a second job or some way of supplementing their income.
So what kind of jobs are these firefighters doing? Well, the sky is the limit. A lot of the guys and gals I work with at my department work for private ambulance companies in the area. Why not? They have the skills and experience so this is often an easy transition from the firehouse. Most firefighters nowadays are also licensed paramedics and EMTs. So these private ambulance companies are very likely to hire someone with that experience. However, some firefighters need a break from the “911” lifestyle so they look elsewhere for part time work.
It is no secret that firefighters can be very handy. Need something built or fixed? Call a firefighter. Many firefighters actually run their own businesses rehabbing houses or remodeling kitchens and things like that. One of my pals at the firehouse even runs a fence installation company in his free time. These gigs provide a great opportunity for them to use their handyman skills and make great money on the side. People pay a lot of money for these types of services and a firefighter’s schedule works out very well for this type of work. I even know a few firefighters who plan on doing this type of work long after they retire.
A hand full of firefighters even have their nursing licenses. Nursing is another easy transition for paramedics and EMTs as their skills they use out in the field translate very well to a hospital setting. Nurses typically work 12 hour shifts. Throw 5 or 6 of these shifts a month into your routine, and that firefighter can find his bank account to be fat and happy. Nursing also provides a great opportunity to those firefighters who are injured on the job and can no longer do the work of a firefighter. Although 12 hour shifts standing on your feet are no walk in the park.
Some firefighters have more technical jobs, much like myself. What do I do on the side? I build and maintain websites for small businesses. I can even work on this job during downtime at the firehouse. It is sometimes a great alternative to watching stupid movies in my recliner in the firehouse lounge. Small businesses will pay a hefty sum to have their websites looking good and ranking well with Google.
There is no limit as to what a firefighter can do in his off time. Some even choose just to relax on their days away from the firehouse. Not a bad idea at all! Either way, a firefighter’s number one priority is his job at the firehouse serving the community.
It was a quiet day. The ambulance had run a fair amount of calls, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. We had a inspection at one of the high rises right after lunch, but other than that, it was a pretty boring day. Dinner consisted of BBq’d chicken chunks and some grilled asparagus. Not the best meal we have ever had, but it did the trick. Just as the coffee was being poured, our first alarm tones rang out.
“3203, 3212, 3214 respond to a structure fire at the Ritz Carlton Hotel” rang out over the P.A. We all sprung up from the dinner table. I hadn’t seen some of these guys move that fast in a long time. As we made our way to the trucks, some more info came over the P.A. There was a grease fire in one of the kitchens at the Ritz. The Ritz is a gigantic hotel less than a quarter mile from the firehouse and they had a grease fire in one of the main kitchens. We geared up and made our way to the hotel in the trucks.
Upon arriving, we were met by the head of security. He informed us as to what was going on. He guided us to the kitchen where the fire was. To our surprise, no one in the kitchen was evacuating. They were still cooking food! What?! He quickly instructed all the cooks to vacate the kitchen so we could do our thing. One of the large stove tops have flames shooting out of the back of it about five feet into the air. We attempted to extinguish the flames with an extinguisher, but had no luck. We needed to find the gas shutoff or this thing was never going to go out.
We located the gas shutoff to the left of the stove and shut it off. The fire was still roaring. Huh? There must have been another valve somewhere. Within minutes, a hotel employee made his was into the kitchen and informed us that the stove was dual fed. So our suspicions were accurate. We had to find that other valve. Luckily, we were able to find it quickly and shut it off. We doused the remaining flames with the extinguisher again and this time the fire remained out. By this time, we had pretty much filled the entire kitchen with that nasty extinguisher dust. It was pretty nasty and a huge mess. Oh well, not our problem. We were able to save the kitchen and thousands of dollars in expensive cooking equipment.
So it was not the biggest of fires, but a good example of some of the things that we have to deal with during emergency situations. It was a great last shift before my vacation next week. I’m taking the family to Mercer Island, WA for some much needed R&R. I will gladly give you all the details when I get back into town.
Hello. My name is Izzy Escort. Welcome to my web page. I am glad you’ve decided to join me on this adventure. The purpose of this website is to educate the general public on the world of EMS and Firefighting. The majority of people in this country have no clue as to what is going on behind the scenes at fire departments and ambulance services. There is a lot of things that people just do not understand and the mission of this website is to educate those people.
A little background on myself. I grew up in the St Louis area and went the traditional route of high school, college, get a job, and be miserable. Ha. I spent four years in Ohio obtaining my bachelors degree in Management Information Systems. Although, I had a great time in Ohio (…from what I can remember), I never felt that a job in information systems was right for me. I spent two years or so after college trying to find a job in that industry that interested me. I also worked part time for a tow truck company. Boy, that was an educational experience to say the least. I had zero luck. Rather than taking a job that I hated, I decided to point my efforts towards and entire new industry.
That’s right. The word of firefighting and EMS looked quite attractive to me. I have a family friend that had been in the industry for many years and he always seemed to be so happy…and rarely at work. Ha. Anyway, this friend, Fred, was instrumental in my decision to pursue a career in firefighting. He told me exactly what I needed to do to gain a job in the firefighting service.
Many people do not know this, but a vast majority of firefighters in this country are also licensed as EMTs and Paramedics. To be attractive to potential employers, it was crucial to obtain my paramedic licenese. This was no easy feat. Paramedic school takes roughly two years of classroom time and another 1000+ hours of clinical ride a longs and ER shifts. It was a huge time suck and pretty much took up all of my time for those two years.
I was lucky enough after paramedic school to land a spot in the St. Louis County Fire Academy. The waiting list is a mile long to get into that academy and I was very fortunate that my name came up in the lottery process. The academy took 10 long weeks and was right in the middle of one of the hottest summers in recent memory. Lots of sweat! Shortly after the academy, I was hired by a local fire department and have never looked back. The best decision I ever made was to enter the fire service.
I am looking forward to telling all of you some of the great experiences that I have had in the past 8 years. Also, I hope to enlighten some of you to all of the unknowns in this field.