Wednesday, September 8, 2010

if Obama can become president then I can...

Hmmmmm. A friend just emailed me about my previous post and asked me at what point does one give up on the firefighting dream if it may not become a reality? A very good question indeed. On average for every job hiring, two thousand people apply for a possible 15 to 30 career firefighter positions. It doesn't take a mathematician to see that the competition is stiff. Still, I think it's do-able. Someone has to get hired... why couldn't it be you? I find it ironic however, when talking to my senior crew members who have been on the job 30-plus years tell me that back in the day it was a job you couldn't give away. It was dirty and dangerous and you could get on with a grade 10 education. And all you did was put out fires and there were only 2 breathing apparatuses on the truck and only sissies used them. The medical bag wasn't for the public but to patch up firemen after a call. And the O2 bottle was there to bring 'round those fire breathers who took in a bit too much smoke. One legendary retiree used to run into a house on fire while still smoking a cigar. These guys were tough as nails. We've come a long way since then, with better gear and technology, and better knowledge of long-term health and safety. We now encompass first response emergency medical care, high angle and water rescue, hazmat calls, extrication, do inspections and educate the public. Although not necessary, most departments won't even look at your application unless you have some form of post-secondary education, fire college often preferred which can cost you to the tune of ten thousand dollars and up before you even get to apply. In addition, you will need your CPR and first aid certification, your truck license and air brake endorsement, and be in kick ass shape... again... this is all before they will even hand over an application to you. Then you need to score tops in the entrance and physical exams, pass background checks and sweat through a series of interviews. But I digress.

Getting back to the question at hand, 'at what point do you move on?'. I think that is highly personal. I know some people who landed the job after their very first try, while it took others seven years. For me, it was a 'whichever comes first' thing. I was in the midst of preparing to go to paramedic college but got the call to become a firefighter in the meantime. Either option was good for me and I wouldn't have been disappointed either way. I don't advocate anyone to give up their dream but I think when the dream becomes all consuming at the expense of your family and friends, bank-account, and the things you love then you should reconsider. I think when your entire self-worth is dependent on whether or not you get the job, or if you think you cannot be happy until the day you are hired, then that is not reason enough to keep at it. You are not the job. And the job is not you. Firefighting is an extension of who I am, but I am not defined by it. However, working as a firefighter is an amazing bonus in my life, just like being a mother. It helps shape who I am and is very much a part of me, but it is not what I am.

So I have no clue if I've answered my friend's question properly but there you have it. My 2 cents. :)