Firefighter Schedules and Work Life
A full-time firefighter works an average of 56 hours per week, but the work hours are divided into 24-hours shifts. Some departments schedule firefighters to work eight or 12-hour shifts, but this is not the usual practice. The usual schedule for firefighters is to work 10 of the 24-hour shifts per month, which means that the firefighter has approximately 20 days off each month. Many firefighters take this time and work at a second job to supplement their income.
While on duty, the crew members live and eat together at the fire house. This makes firefighting a unique type of work. Instead of working an eight-hour shift and going home, firefighters are together constantly while working. They are coworkers who behave like roommates, and ultimately like a family.
The firehouse contains an area with office space for officers, as well as a kitchen and dining area. Firefighters sleep in a dormitory-style room, and the firehouse is outfitted with bathroom and shower facilities as well. A lounge or TV room is also part of the layout.
Each member of the crew is expected to participate in household chores that include cooking and cleaning. This is not your typical work environment, and in order to make it work, crew members must have a certain degree of flexibility and tolerance toward each other. Due to the nature of the work, they need to be able to rely on each other and trust each other in what may be very difficult circumstances.
Firefighters work in very stressful situations. They are called out to fires and other emergencies, and may need to work while sleep-deprived when circumstances warrant. They see people who have been injured or killed in fires or as the result of accidents and other incidents as part of their job duties on a regular basis.
For the people who successfully complete the rigorous application process, it’s a career like no other. The rewards of doing the job make the stresses and challenges worth it.