Stressful. Long hours. Intense physical demands. Not lucrative. Dangerous.
Based on this description, it’s hard to understand why someone would want to become a firefighter. The job is not a predictable 9 to 5 with weekends and holidays off. It doesn’t involve the comfort of a desk in a nice, air conditioned office. Instead, it involves rushing into a dangerous situation that everyone else is fleeing.
What motivates people to become firefighters and to remain dedicated to their work?
A Service Ethic
Firefighters are an indispensable part of their communities. They’re respected, appreciated, and regarded as selfless heroes. By contributing to their community, firefighters can know that the world is a better place because of them. This ethic of selfless service is at the heart of what motivates firefighters.
Being There in Our Worst Moments
Firefighters are there when people are in possibly the worst moments of their lives: their home is being devoured by a blaze, they and their loved ones are in danger, and they’re powerless.
When a firefighter arrives to stabilize the situation and get everyone to safety, they can know that they are doing an immense service to the victims and the community as a whole. They save people’s homes, and even more importantly, they save people’s lives. Once a life is lost, it can never be replaced.
Rising to Meet The Challenge
It isn’t easy being a firefighter, and this is precisely what can attract people to the work. Firefighting asks a lot of you physically – bulky and hot protective uniforms, heavy equipment, climbing and up down ladders, navigating through unstable structures, standing face-to-face with red hot fires.
But firefighting also asks a lot of your mentally. First, you have to acquire the knowledge you need by being a dedicated student of the craft and successfully completing training. Second, while responding to an incident, you have to be focused and sharp. You can’t be too aggressive, because then you’ll be reckless, nor too passive, because then you won’t take forceful enough action. You have to find the right balance.
And third, in order to be in the right mental and physical states while working, you have to have the discipline to ensure your life outside of firefighting supports that work. You need to be physically healthy, well-rested, and emotionally and mentally stable. Firefighting is far more than an activity you can just jump into and expect to do well.
Finding Your Crew
There is nothing like challenges and intense situations to bring people together. Firefighters have to be a cohesive team that can execute their responsibilities excellently. This means that your fellow firefighters will become far more than just co-workers. They are the people who protect you and that you protect. You look out for one another, and for your community as a whole. It’s a powerful feeling to be a part of such a tight group, united in pursuit of such an important goal.
Whether you’re thinking of becoming a firefighter or already are one, keep in mind these different components of the motivations behind firefighting. It’s not an easy job, but it is one that will challenge you to become better so that you can help people when they need help the most.