Hidden Secrets Revealed From An Ex-Firefighter

By Nick Hadji 7 months ago

1. They don't just put out fires

Image Source/ boredpandaFirefighters, despite their title, don't just put out fires! They actually spend most of their time responding to other emergencies like car crashes, floods or rail crashes. This means they all have a huge variety of skills that they use to save lives.Original content sourced from Femanin.com

2. They're not all men!

Image Source/ TodayYou don't have to be a man to be a firefighter! There are lots of women who do the job too! We need to change the narrative that it's a 'boys club' and encourage more women to join! The equipment they carry now isn't quite as heavy as it used to be.

3. You never forget the first time you save a life

Image Source/ am New YorkSometimes their job puts them in awful situations, but sometimes those situations end positively. You can imagine it's a crazy amount of satisfaction and sense of achievement when you save a life. It never gets old, but the first time is always special.

4. You never forget your first big fire

Image Source/ WikipediaThe training is endless. You run through every possible situation and scenario you might encounter until it becomes a natural reaction, but the first, real fire you see will stay with you forever. It's a huge adrenaline rush and nothing can really prepare you for that.

5. It's not easy to describe what it's like to be inside a burning building

Image Source/ The New York TimesIt's loud, it's hot and it's scary. Exactly as you'd expect. But the noises and heat is too hard to describe as it is not like anything you have ever experienced before. There will be lightbulbs exploding and temperatures so hot your sweat can evaporate and burn you!

6. Fires in films are not realistic at all

Image Source/ InTimeThe huge, bright flames that light the way for firefighters in movies would be great... if it was actually true! Normally, it's pitch black and the rooms are full of smoke so you can't even see your hands in front of your face. You navigate with touch and hope for the best.

7. People can be really, really stupid

Image Source/ Secret LondonLike we said before, they don't just put out fires all the time. They can be called out to some really hilarious, or embarrassing if it's you calling, situations. You would be surprised how many people get private parts stuck in VERY peculiar places. How about a vacuum cleaner nozzle?

8. Christmas is the busiest time of the year

Image Source/ NPRYou would think Bonfire Night would be a firefighters worst nightmare. Turns out it's actually Christmas! You wouldn't believe how many people accidentally set fire to themselves while trying to flambé their Christmas pudding! That's not to mention people leaving their fairy lights on or knocking over their Christmas candles...

9. They are often haunted by some of the things they see at work...

Image Source/ Fire RescueYou never forget your first save or other positive achievements. You also never forget the sight of your first dead body... Unfortunately, that is something you have to deal with as a firefighter and it's not something you can just forget about. Luckily, they are offered a lot of support to cope with these sorts of situations.

10. They really do rescue cats from trees

Image Source/ MetroCats being stuck in trees sounds like a cliche, but it does actually happen and firefighters do actually rescue them! Along with dogs that have got stuck down manholes, squirrels stuck in drainpipes and loads of others! You name it, they have probably saved it!

11. Full moon is a crazy time

Image Source/ wtamuNot everyone believes that a full moon has any impact on people's behaviour, but firefighters would disagree. All emergency services are busier than ever on a full moon, and they even plan for it now! There is no mention of werewolf encounters but plenty of other weird and wonderful full moon call outs...

12. The (friendly) rivalry with the cops

Image Source/ TodayOften in movies, there is a rivalry between firefighters and the police. You would be forgiven for thinking this was just dramatised for the viewers, but apparently it is true! Although, the rivalry is mostly friendly, they work together on a lot of crime scenes and it's always a toss up on who is in charge of the scene.

13. They don't care if it's illegal!

Image Source/ RTA lot of people might not know this! But firefighters are not law enforcers, so they won't do anything about any illegal activity, they leave that all to the police. They won't ask you many questions about how you got into your situation, they will just assume you're an idiot.

14. They are (usually) one big, happy family

Image Source/ Daily MailThey spend such a lot of time with their work colleagues, and also encounter such intense situations together that they end up forming close connections with everyone. This atmosphere at work much get everyone through the tough times. You'll often find everyone meeting up outside of work hours.

15. Prepare to be pranked

Image Source/ truTVThey do spend a lot of time at the station, and they know how to get through those quiet periods. Pranks! Whether they are welcoming new recruits to the fold by hosing them down outside or filling colleague's lockers with rubbish, it's just their way of letting off steam.

16. Their uniform is HEAVY

Image Source/ The TimesThe suits are helmets are made out of flame-retardant materials like kevlar, which weighs a lot. Add in an oxygen tank on your back and also carrying heavy tools and a hose, you can imagine how much the uniform weights and why you have to be in such good shape!

17. Holding the hose is the best job

Image Source/ PiqselsIt's actually a privilege to be the one holding the hose when putting out a fire. It will only be the most experienced firefighters that get to hold the hose and it's definitely the most fun job - which means everyone wants to do it! We can see why...

18. Driving the fire engine is fun too

Image Source/ KCRGLet's not forget the big, red truck they get to drive! This is another sought after job that everyone wants to do. They like to share this job out, so everyone gets a turn. No one seems to mind that when they are driving the fire truck with all the sirens blaring, it is generally towards danger!

19. They are called out for no reason A LOT

Image Source/ Business InsiderA lot of large buildings like hospitals and student halls that will be fitted with Automatic Fire Alarms. These can be triggered by anything from an actual fire to some burnt toast. The latter is quite frequent and the problem is that the whole team has to go out fully equipped and prepared for the worst.

20. Not everyone understands what 'emergency' means

Image Source/ Birmingham LiveMost calls to firefighters are warranted and people genuinely need some help. Some people don't seem to know the definition of emergency though. Some people have genuinely phoned the fire department if they can't unlock their car or get an earring out of their ear...

21. No beards allowed

Image Source/ Firefighters CharityYou will never see a male firefighter with any facial hair, because they are not allowed! You can't grow a big, bushy beard as it can get in the way of the helmet and also the all important breathing equipment they need to use. Who knew! You wouldn't take the risk would you...

22. They're as underpaid as everyone else

How much do firefighters earn after rejecting 5% pay offer? | Evening StandardImage Source/ Evening StandardFirefighters are up there with nurses for being underpaid. You would think risking your life every day and quite literally running into burning buildings would earn you a decent wage at least, but apparently not. The starting salary in the UK for firefighters is just over £22,000.

23. They work really long shifts

Image Source/ ABC7 Los AngelesTwelve hour shifts are the norm for firefighters. That's a long time! They quite often end up working longer than this if they get a call right at the end of the day. Generally, you will work two day shifts then two night shifts, then you get four days off to recover.

24. People don't like to wait

Image Source/ Derbyshire Fire and RescueFirefighters are advised not to run with their equipment on, due to the weight of it. Some homeowners are not very understanding about this and can get a little impatient if they feel like they have been waiting too long. A lot of them have experienced a lot of abuse from homeowners throughout their careers.

25. Yes, they really do get hit on all the time

Image Source/ Bored PandaThere is definitely an assumption that all firefighters are HOT. Maybe it's the uniform? They definitely report being hit on a lot. It doesn't matter where they are or what they're doing, they only need to be checking up on a smoke alarm but someone will hit on them! Or they think they're a stripper...

26. Hoax calls are super regular

Image Source/ Warwickshire County CouncilA very, very dangerous problem is hoax calls made to the fire department. Every call out is treated seriously, and unless you are confident that it's fake, you can expect the force to be deployed as normal. While they're distracted by these fake emergencies, they aren't available to attend to the real ones.

27. Kids are the worst

Image Source/ The MirrorBored kids are the worst culprits for making hoax fire calls! There have even been instances when the fire fighters have been attacked with stones when they arrive at the so-called scene! This has even happened when they are trying to fight real fires...

28. Most of their calls aren't even fire related

Image Source/ Quick CountryActual fires are a much smaller proportion of the call outs than you think. Firefighters become whatever job they are needed to be, whether that's a plumber fixing broken pipes or an electrician rewiring a fire alarm. Plus, the huge amount of medical emergencies they attend.

29. There are no slow days anymore

Image Source/ London Fire BrigadeThere is a perception that during 'downtime' firefighters can sit around and play cards if there are no call outs. This is not true. Even on a 'slow day' they are still very busy! If there's no emergencies, there are still plenty of admin and routine tasks to be done.

30. They don't get any freebies

Image Source/ Omaha HeraldFirefighters pay for all of their own food, so don't believe otherwise. There is a misconception the taxpayers fund food for the station but that is definitely not true. They buy their own food to cook just like everyone else. They don't get any freebies!

31. A Firefighter's Uniform Can Deal With Up To 2200 Degrees F

Image Source / Bright SideObviously a firefighter's uniform is going to be made to withstand some serious heat, but the special material is so hardcore it can put up with temperatures up to a whopping 2200 degrees fahrenheit, in order to do what they do. The uniforms protect the fighter from acids and alkali absorption, too. This sort of temperature would set most materials on Earth on fire.

32. Firefighters Shouldn't Have Any Facial Piercings Either

Image Source / RedditWe've already mentioned that firefighters aren't allowed to have big beards because it prevents the helmet and safety equipment being put on properly, but this also counts for facial piercings, too. Anything like a big lip ring, nose ring or eyebrow piercing could all prevent a mask from being fitted correctly. And the same goes for big bushy moustaches as well as beards!

33. A Firefighter Can Be Carrying 5-30 KG At A Time

Image Source / RedditThe reason for the variation in kg is because it all depends on what their uniform is made of and what they have included in their uniform equipment wise. But the fact that they might have to wear and carry 30KG at a time goes without saying that you can only be a firefighter if you're physically fit.

34. Molly Williams Was The First Female To Put Out Fires

Image Source / WikipediaIn the beginning of the 19th century, a woman named Molly Williams became the first female in the world to put out fires on the same level as men. There were later separate fire brigades for women, but in this day and age, you can find any gender working on the same firefighting team.

35. Firefighters Need To Be Able To Cope With Kids

Image Source / Bright SideWorking with kids in a variety of situations is a norm for a firefighter, and it's also a must-have to have a patience and sense of humour when dealing with them. Because not all situations can be life-threatening fires with kids involved - young kids can lock their parents out of cars and think it's hilarious while firefighters have to come and help!

36. Firefighters Deal With Animals In Trouble On A Regular Basis

Image Source / Bright SideWe know that a cat stuck up in a tree is the cliché firefighter situation, but in reality they can deal with many different types of animals being in many difficult situations! This can include cattle or farm animals being stuck in ditches or sewers even, or pets that have fallen into wells or even drainpipes.

37. Shifts Can Be 24 Hours Long

Image Source / RedditEmergency situations and fire breakouts don't work on your schedule, so you'd expect a firefighter's shift to be very, very long. But usual shifts can actually last 24 hours! This how exhausting that must be. If a firefighter has worked 24 hours, they would usually get a 48 hour rest period. But during serious emergencies, they may work for over 24 hours without a break or rest day.

38. They Fold Their Uniforms In A Certain Way So They Can Easily Jump Into Them

Image Source / Bright SideWhen an emergency call comes through, firefighters don't have time to be dealing with a jacket that's inside out, a boot that's missing or their whole uniform in a chaotic heap. They fold and hang their uniform in a designated closet in a certain way that will let them slip right into it in the quickest way possible.

39. Back In The Day, People Wearing Wet Clothes Were Sent Into Burning Buildings

Image Source / WikipediaA technique that was actually used by Japanese firefighters in the past was to send in fighters who were wearing wet clothing so that they wouldn't catch fire while in the burning building. They'd be able to wait in there until the fire was then completely out. This technique was really effective in reducing those fire-related deaths.

40. Today, Water Is Brought In Cars Instead

Image Source / RedditThat technique has changed a little these days, where water is brought in cars instead. The amount of water brought is enough to last for up to 10 minutes. The water is used to give the firefighters more time to extinguish the fire, and they can then also use nearby pond water or hydrants to pump more water from.

41. A Larger, More Open House Will Burn As Quick As A Match

Image Source / Bright SideYou might think if you have a huge open-plan home, it might take a while for fire to spread compared to a small bedroom that would be quickly consumed by flames. But actually, a huge open space without many doors or walls will mean that fires will spread in the blink of an eye. It's walls and doors that help to stop a fire from spreading too quickly.

42. Firefighters Can't Get You Thrown In Prison If You Start A Fire

Image Source / WikipediaFirefighters are actually more likely to be blamed legally for damage caused during a fire, rather than you being sent to prison for a fire. After a fire is put out, investigators need to work out what happened, and how effective the fire-fighting was - and if the fire-fighting was carried out in a legal way. Which means if any of their actions look as though they've caused damage that could have been avoided, it can be taken to court.

43. Lots Of Fires Are Put Out By Volunteers Rather Than Qualified Firefighters

Image Source / RedditIn a lot of countries, the government doesn't have the budget to fund as many firefighters as it might need, which means a lot of the brave people tackling fires can be volunteers. Volunteers can get special firefighting training, but it all depends on the country you're volunteering in - some countries offer the training for a free, others require you to have higher education.

44. Dalmatians Used To Be Used By The Fire Brigade

Image Source / RedditIn times gone by, the dog breed Dalmatian used to work with the fire department! Dalmatians would run to clear the way ahead for horses to get through by barking. The Dalmatian in particular as a breed is known for bravery, which checks out. The Dalmatian is still the 'dog symbol' of firefighters, but other breeds can now be used for the service, to find people easily in an emergency situation.

45. Around 100 Firefighters A Year Are Arrested For Starting Fires!

Image Source / RedditYep, that's right - the people responsible for putting out the fires can also be the ones starting them! Around 100 firefighters a year are arrested for starting fires - and this is because some arsonists decide to become firefighters so that they can get the thrill of starting fires. Luckily, they haven't given the actual brave firefighters a bad rep.

46. Benjamin Franklin Was Actually Responsible For The First Fire Company In Philadelphia

Image Source / WikipediaOne of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, created the very first fire company in Philadelphia, USA. The firefighters working for this company would be known as Benjamin Franklin's Bucket Brigade! Every month they would meet up to discuss tactics and techniques for fighting fires.

47. It Takes 100 Hours Of Training For A Firefighter

Image Source / WSETTraining to be a firefighter is going to be very physically intense, and it's going to take a lot of know-how to safely tend to burning buildings and other emergencies. That's why firefighters must go through 100 hours of training before they can be legally allowed to enter a burning building safely. Without those hours, they wouldn't be allowed inside.

48. Firefighters Have Less Than Two Minutes To Get Their Gear On

Image Source / WikipediaAs mentioned earlier, firefighters set their gear out in a specific way to get the uniform on as quickly as possible - and that's because they only have two minutes max to get everything on before heading out to an emergency! So that's less than two minutes to get all those heavy items on, get their trousers, boots and helmet on and get out the door.

49. Heart Attacks Are More Likely To Kill Firefighters Than Fires

Image Source / Fire Brigades Union

In battling fires, you'd think a fire would be the thing most likely to threaten a firefighter's life, wouldn't you? Well actually, heart attacks are the number one killer of firefighters. You could take into account the life-threatening and stressful situations they're put under when fighting fires, so it's 12 times more likely for one to have a heart attack on duty.

50. There's Actually An International Firefighters Competition

Image Source / Awesome Stuff 365

Who knew that you could compete against other firefighters to see who's best at putting one out? This international competition is worldwide, and a mean to test how good firefighters are at their jobs. This includes how well they react to natural disasters and devastating emergencies like wildfires. The winner would be named the world's best firefighter - that's quite the title!