Becoming a firefighter may be a calling as loud and clear as day for you.
But for many, working as a professional career firefighter is not the best option, either due to the difficult schedule, long days and late nights, or geographic location. Not all cities and towns have paid fire departments, and rely instead on volunteers who live in the community to staff this community service—there are over 1.1 million volunteer firefighters in the United States.
It can be tough to juggle a position as a volunteer firefighter and your full-time day job that pays the bills, but it can definitely be done. Here are a few things to remember to help you find the balance:
Remember Your “Why” When Becoming a Volunteer Firefighter
Some days, you may just be exhausted from your home life and day job, and coming on shift as a volunteer firefighter at the firehouse might seem like too big a sacrifice. When this is the case, remind yourself of all the reasons you entered this volunteer position: the firehouse family, the service to the community, people rely on you to make their town or county safer. Those motivating truths can slip away from time to time when you’d rather kick back at home for the evening, so take an intentional moment to remember why you signed up to be a volunteer firefighter, and all the positives that come with your commitments.
Guard Your Free Time When Becoming a Volunteer Firefighter
When you’re working 40 hours per week and on call for another handful or two as a volunteer firefighter, your personal time dwindles. To keep from burning out and to make sure you’re always able to give your best to your family, your job, and your firehouse, be protective over your free time and be choosy with where you spend it. You can’t help every friend move or paint his house on the weekends, and you might not make it to every social event. But missing out on some things means making the most of what you truly want to spend your time doing, so don’t feel bad about turning down invitations or requests for help now and then. You can’t do it all, or at least not for long without burning out! So be selective (and polite when you have to say, “No”) and keep your focus where it matters most.