I’m asked regularly by friends and family why I don’t join one of the paid fire departments. They say things like, “but you could get PAID to do the same job” or “why would anyone work so hard for free?” While I try to explain why I choose to volunteer, you can see the confusion on their face. They just don’t understand.
So, here’s the best explanation I have for why I choose to be a volunteer firefighter.
Being a firefighter is the greatest job on earth. When you love what you’re doing, money doesn’t matter. I’m dead serious! Sure, everyone needs money to make a living, but most volunteer firefighters have a regular job and volunteer in their off hours.
Small towns all across America can’t afford to pay firefighters. If there were no volunteer firefighters and your neighbor’s house caught on fire, who would end up putting it out? You and the other neighbors in your community right? So you’d all be volunteering your time to put out the neighbor’s fire not just because it’s the “neighborly thing to do” but also because it would help protect your own home and property from potentially catching on fire.
This is essentially what we’re doing. We’re helping our neighbors and friends. Bonus, we have the correct equipment and training to get the job done safely and quickly.
If you’re still thinking, “but you don’t get PAID a dime?” Here’s how I get paid…
-Family members who give us a tear-filled “thank you” after we’ve helped their loved one.
-Children smiling and waving when they see us drive by in the fire engine.
-Knowing we did our absolute best to save a life, even if we never learn of the outcome.
-The simple joy of seeing another sunrise with my fire family.
-The warmth of a handshake or a simple “good job” after working a long call.
-Thank you cards and letters from the community.
-Much laughter at things no one else understands but my fellow first responders.
-There’s always someone willing to listen when I really need them, no matter the hour.
-A large family of boisterous people who love me and trust me.
-A fire family who will literally risk their life to save mine.
This job isn’t for everyone. It’s difficult mentally and physically. But you won’t find a more dedicated group of people than your local volunteer firefighters.
Stay safe out there.