I am a fireman’s daughter. I have always said these words with such pride.
As a kid, it was super cool to have a dad who was a fireman. Those awesome red trucks, the equipment, the uniforms and helmets. Everyone loves firefighters and I loved telling people about my dad. Firefighters are brave and strong. They are heros, and everyone knows it.
As a young girl, I was able to visit the various engine houses where my dad worked. I sat in the trucks, slide down the poles, and strutted around wearing oversized shielded helmets. I bragged about it at school. Kids were impressed. My dad was cool.
I remember when my dad would return home from a 24 hour shift, and I would greet him at the door because….
1. I couldn’t wait to see him.
2. Sometimes he brought home the best donuts from a bakery near the engine house where he worked.
3. I loved his fireman smell. His clothes and his hair would smell like fire and I would hug and sniff him all at the same time.
My brothers and I would ask him to tell us stories about the fires he had fought that night, and we would ask if he saved any ‘hurt guys’.
Being a firefighter comes with much sacrifice. If you know a fireman, chances are he has side jobs to bring home some extra money, because even though these men and women run into burning buildings to save people, pets, and property, they are not paid much.
My dad had many side jobs. He was a window washer, a delivery man and he used his van as an airport shuttle service…..just to name a few. He did all of these things in addition to being a heroic fireman and a great dad.
Firefighters sacrifice time with their families, too. There were many holidays when my dad was working. However, I can’t specifically remember us having a Christmas morning without him, I would have to ask my mom about that. There may have been a few extra early Christmas mornings, when he sat in his uniform, sipping on his coffee, watching the clock, while us kids opened our gifts. I do believe the firemen with older children would try to take those holiday shifts, so those with little ones could be with their families. Firemen sacrifice for each other too.
I knew of the dangers my dad faced being a fireman without anyone ever specifically telling me. I don’t remember my parents talking much about that part of the job in front of us kids. I guess they wanted to shield us from that worry. But, when your dad’s job requires him to speed an enormous truck through red lights, climb through broken windows, walk up half fallen stairways and into buildings and homes engulfed in flames, well, you figure out pretty quick that his job is risky and dangerous.
I can remember worrying about my dad when he was at work and being relieved when I would see or hear his van pull into our driveway. Then came the greeting at the door, smelling the clothes, and searching for those donuts.
There is a new documentary titled “Burn” which is bringing to light just what goes on during a Detroit firefighter’s shift. Click here to read about it in The Detroit News.
If you are interested in viewing the Burn trailer, click on the link below. You won’t be disappointed.
As the daughter of a fireman who fought for 33 years to keep a city from crumbling, I feel it is important that the public understand just what these men and women do every single day.
My dad is now a grandfather to six. His grandchildren have received various pieces of their grandpa’s firefighter past……helmets, badges, photos, etc. My son has one of his grandpa’s helmets hanging on his bedroom wall. They are proud of their “firefighter grandpa” too. Once a hero, always a hero.