I’m a lot like most firefighters I know; we work. We didn’t become firefighters because we were looking for the easy way.
The fire service has been very good to me. I put a lot into it, took every opportunity to advance, got the certifications and commensurate pay raises.
Overtime was abundant. That was a bonus I never saw coming, when I was hired in 1991 there was zero overtime, and that lasted for years. As the years progressed the city didn’t keep up with hiring and overtime was used to fill vacancies on our minimum manning roster. Some see that as a union money grab, but those same some would complain if we ran the department with volunteers.
Nonetheless, I’ve always had a job on the side. When I say always, I mean always. When I was old enough and would babysit, I got a paper route. When I stopped babysitting I did the paper route and cut lawns. Then cutting lawns and a job at the closest restaurant washing dishes. Then washing dishes at one place and bussing tables at another. That went from bussing tables to cooking at a third place, which metamorphosed into a cooks job while waiting tables, then tending bar by night and working construction by day. The construction thing led to some clean-ups, which led to my cleaning company by night and tending bar on weekends.
Eventually I was hired as a firefighter in Providence, and I tended bar on weekends and cleaned offices at night to subsidies the six months of minimum wage I earned while in the academy. Once on the job I dumped the bartending gig and kept the cleaning business, which I did up until a few years ago.
Some of us work second jobs to make ends meet. Some do it because they know no other way. Some are happy to do the demanding hours at the station and leave it at that. Whatever works is what I say, and kudos to everybody who finds contentment with what they do.