Being a firefighter is not just a job, it is a calling. When we think of firefighters the first thing coming to our mind are cats on trees, firemen sliding down a pole, and of course the shirtless calendars that seem to be hanging at every hairdresser’s. There is much more than that to firefighting: there are river rescues, wildland fires, car crashes, ambulance calls, and most importantly there are real people behind those uniforms and all that gear.
Firefighting is without a doubt one of the most hazardous and physically demanding professions in the world. Firefighters enter burning buildings, climb ladders, and carry heavy equipment, all while wearing hot and heavy protective gear. However, the physical demands are not the only challenge that firefighters face. The pressure of firefighting can take a real toll on their mental health, as they are compelled to make split-second decisions in high-stress situations, with the consequence of those decisions being life or death. Being a firefighter means learning to accept death and understanding that not all rescues are going to have a happy ending. Being a firefighter also means accepting the feelings and overwhelming emotions coming from going on some of those calls.
As a firefighter, there will be good and bad days. Days on which firemen leave work with a smile on their faces, and days on which all they will want to do is cry in someone’s arms. It is a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences Behind the Siren is a podcast dedicated to the stories of first responders. From police officers to firefighters, paramedics to dispatchers, they all have heartfelt, intriguing, and personal stories to tell. In this episode, a recently retired firefighter from British Columbia, Canada, looks back at his 30-year-long career and recalls stories from behind the siren.