All in the family of firefighters…
We know how it feels when all we can do is not enough.
We live with the mental images of what can go wrong in an uncertain world.
We know exactly how fragile life is, and how quickly it all can end.
Yet every one of us, every career firefighter, every volunteer, and anybody who has ever worn the gear and rode under the lights and sirens knows, without doubt, that if the people we brought into this existence choose to do what we have chosen not only will we approve, we will do everything in our power to make our child’s vision a reality.
Firefighting is the life we have lived. We are fully aware of the danger and the hardship.
We know that there will be dark days ahead for most, if not all, firefighters.
We know there will be injuries, self-doubt, and regret when things go wrong. And things will definitely go wrong during a career in the fire service; there is no way to avoid it.
We also know that by facing the terrible things we will see and healing from the injuries we endure that we will grow and become grounded in the reality that life at its most raw brings joy as well as sorrow.
By bearing witness to all that goes wrong, we will learn to see all that is good in a new light and hold onto that good with all we have and nurture it, appreciate it, and never let it go.
As parents, we learn that taking everything we can to achieve happiness is a fool’s game. We know that it is in the giving where true satisfaction derives. The fire service provides the perfect opportunity to find purpose, contentment, and the elusive happiness that every person craves. To give our children every opportunity we can imagine, including but certainly not limited to the opportunity to pursue the life we have led, is the greatest gift we can give them.
Denying them the chance to experience it because of the inherent risk is simply not an option.
We do not “let our kids follow in our footsteps.” They have seen for themselves what a firefighter is and have chosen to follow our path into the fire service, and create their own footsteps along the way.
Originally published in Fire Engineering