One the greatest privileges to being a firefighter is getting an 'instant' family. We bond simply through the work that we do. It is impossible not to be close to the men and women you work with when you depend on each other for your safety. We celebrate each other's weddings, the birth of children, retirements, lend a helping hand with a renovation, and offer a shoulder to cry on at funerals.
This family isn't just limited to my crew, but extends beyond to all faculties of the department, from administration, to those in dispatch, building maintenance, the mechanics, the kind folks in human resources, and the equipment managers. Firefighters tend to get all the glory but we could not do the work that we do if it weren't for all the support people who help run the show behind the scene.
Becoming a firefighter helped me grow up and take responsibility... not just for myself... but for others including strangers I don't know but assist because they have called 911. It is nice to help people. But the truth is, the people I help are the ones who are actually helping me. They teach me compassion, and patience, and fortitude. They teach me to face my biggest fears and make my weaknesses my strength... and to not hide behind false bravado but to ask for help and guidance when needed. I am finding it is ok to give a hug to a just-new widow who has lost her husband of 60 years. I can look at a person who is in pain or in mourning square in the eye and say, without words, that I care... and that I hope that everything will be alright... even if I know that it won't be for a long time... if ever.
My 'fire' family has enriched my own little family at home. My husband knows that there are days that I am not so tough and I feel afraid and doubt my abilities but he supports me and loves me just the same. I love that I am a firemama to my son who just adores firemen and the shiny red trucks. And I hope that by simply having this job, my daughter who is still too young to understand what I do, will grow to learn that you can achieve at any profession beyond your wildest dreams.
Simply put, I love and trust the people that I work with, and the community that I serve. And I know that each and every firefighter, whether it be in New York, New York, or Osaka, Japan, feels exactly the same way.