On the anniversary of September 11th, I’d like to recognize the wonderful people who serve in the emergency services field. Ten years ago, I met my husband and started to get a peek at the life of a firefighter. Before that, I had spent many years studying to become a guidance counselor so the only time I encountered a firefighter was when someone would pull the fire alarm in our dormitory, and we had to evacuate. My eyes have been opened to this field, and I think it is safe to say that there are few jobs like it.
I have had many jobs in my life…I have delivered newspapers, cleaned hotel rooms, waitressed, tended bar, worked retail, served fast food, directed a camp, and opened mail…just to name a few. Each time I was hired, I would ask crucial questions like, “What is the pay scale?” “What hours will I work?” and “What is the dress code?” After all, those are important things to consider in a new position, right?
In 2005, I landed my dream job as a high school guidance counselor and I regularly counseled young people on career choices. We would talk about the “career pathways” and use an online career matchmaker program to help narrow down potential careers based on individual interests. The student would indicate his or her preferences for work environment, geographic location, level of education, and special skills/abilities and the computer program would be able to suggest careers that you might enjoy. It was a helpful program—especially for a 15-year-old kid who had no idea what to do after high school; however, I’m starting to think that our career development process missed the boat in a critical area. I never once asked a student, “What kind of people do you want to work with?” It’s too bad because it is probably one of the most important pieces of finding a great career and wanting to stick with it. Who you work with really does matter—especially when you live in close quarters, work long hours, share holidays, and enter burning buildings together. I have learned, time and time again, that the fire service is full of amazing people. I doubt that it was ever a thought on my husband’s mind when he took the job years ago. Like most people, he was focused on location, salary, hours, health insurance, advancement opportunities, and retirement age. But boy, oh boy, who you work with is critical.
Just a few weeks ago, I was reminded, yet again, of the terrific people in the emergency services field. The wife of a local firefighter became suddenly ill, and her condition was life threatening. Within hours of transporting her to Boston, firefighters had met to discuss the situation and determine the needs of the family. Child care, lawn care, pool maintenance, transportation, and meals were all coordinated quickly. In addition, funds were collected for the family, and donations came pouring in. Firefighters from miles around, many of whom did not know the family, offered to lend a hand and help them. It was amazing to see, and the support could be felt everywhere. People volunteered in any way they could, and the fire service did what they do best: help people.
We live in a fast-paced world, full of distracting technology, and thousands of lucrative career choices. Most jobs come with far less risk and much more money but thankfully the right people have found the emergency services field. Thank you for your service!
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Loren Davine, M.Ed., C.A.G.S., is the Executive Director of NoFires, Inc. and a former high school guidance counselor. She is also a full-time mom and the wife of Deputy Fire Chief Jon Davine. Loren has been a member of Pioneer Valley Crossfit since 2008 and offers a unique perspective to our community on family, fitness, and fire safety for juvenile firesetters.
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