Firefighting is a unique job. It can allow times of peace and quiet suddenly interrupted by the shrill of alarms. The hours differ greatly from most careers, and the life of a Firefighter is often misunderstood.
A Firefighter is away from their families from early morning through the night. Their shift starts at 7 am and doesn’t end until 7 am the next morning. In most careers, the individual spends about eight hours per day at their work location and then goes home to their family in the evening and are home for weekends and holidays. Firefighters work 24 hours instead of the normal 8 hour work days of most folks. After their 24 hour shift the Firefighter is then off for 48 hours and then the cycle repeats. This 3 day cycle repeats continuously through the year including weekends, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
A Firefighter spends 1/3 of their time at work compared to the norm of only 1/4. It puts a great strain on family dynamics to adjust to the odd hours and the missed family events and holidays.
Some days seem to be nonstop action, but most have some down time between calls. Firefighters can rest, eat meals, study for promotional exams, expand their education, or read providing their chores are done, but all must be set aside when a call for service comes in. The Firefighters have an extensive list of chores, some of which are:
- Assuring their personal protective clothing is ready for use.
- Assuring their breathing equipment is in working order.
- Assuring the fire apparatus are clean and in good working order.
- Checking all tools and equipment.
- Maintaining the fire stations and daily housekeeping duties.
- Participating in training exercises.
- Physical fitness initiatives.
- Pre fire plans and inspections
What does a Firefighter do to serve the community? A Firefighter conducts public education programs, visits businesses and neighborhoods to preplan for emergencies, installs smoke detectors, provides guidance and checks for hazards in non-fire situations, and assists other public safety agencies. As always, their duties can be interrupted by the better known responsibilities such as:
- Rapid medical response.
- Rescue people from buildings, vehicles, water, machinery, and heights.
- Extinguish fires in buildings, vehicles, wooded areas, sheds and trash containers.
- Handle hazardous materials spills and releases.
The Firefighters serving the City of Gaffney and the Greater Gaffney Fire Protection District are a unique group of dynamic individuals teaming together to serve the public in a professional and efficient manner.