I haven't slept through the night in years... especially since the kids were born. But who I am kidding anyway, shift work and motherhood means chronic sleep deprivation.
I don't think I will ever get used to hearing the alarm tones at work going off in the middle of the night... First the tones go off. Then the dispatcher's voice calls out over the squawk box which trucks are needed, the nature of the incident, address, and map number. If you're at a one truck station... this is a bit easier because when the tones go off, you get running. If you're at a 2 or more truck station, you need to listen which truck is being dispatched and make sure you get on the right truck. And you need to be awake. It happens to the best of us sleeping through an alarm. If your crew mates are nice they'll kick your bunk to get you up otherwise you've missed the call which of course is a huge no-no and at best you end up buying dinner for the crew next shift. False alarms are no fun. And if you're the driver you had better make sure you're first on the truck to figure out where you're going and radio that you're on the way.
But there is something really fascinating about running a call at night. It's pretty. Flames and flashing lights are breathtaking. And exciting. And often scary. And driving back to station there is the stillness of the night when everyone else is sleeping that I enjoy. Sometimes at home when I can't sleep I hear the trucks from the nearby station race by and to me the sound of the sirens is a midnight lullaby. And my son, half asleep will say "mommy... your firetrucks..." and smile and drift back to sweet slumber. And it's in these moments that I give thanks and say it's been worth every second of lost shut eye.
(image by Craig Rubadoux/Florida Today/Associated Press)