1 Fire Fighter Candidate Orientation and Information Packet 2009
2 1 Index Page 2 Salary and Employee Benefits 3 Letter from the Fire Chief 5 Physical Ability Examination Guide 11 Training Division / Fire Fighter II Academy 13 Emergency Medical Services - EMS 16 A Day in the Life of a Joliet Fire Fighter 19 What Is It Like to be Married to a Career Firefighter?
3 2 EMPLOYEE BENEFITS PACKAGE Salary The City of Joliet offers an excellent benefit package which includes the following salary scale in effect as of 01/01/2009. $50,931 Starting Salary $65,429 After one year of satisfactory service $75,426 Top of range at the end of 3 years 10 years A dditional Pay Includes: Initial Uniforms provided Firefighting equipment provided Required training fully paid for Voluntary tuition reimbursement for approved course work Additional monetary benefits In surance: Fringe Benefits Comprehensive health and dental plans covering employee and dependents Prescription Drug Plan Life Insurance $10,000 Disability P aid Leave: Vacation, two weeks after 1 year; 3 weeks after 5 years Holiday Package Approved sick leave Retirement Retirement Plan Optional 457 B retirement plans available Ray Randich Ray Randich Deputy Fire Chief
4 3 Letter from the Fire Chief: I would like to thank you for taking an interest in becoming a part of our family, The Joliet Fire Department. The application process that you are about to undertake is very extensive and time consuming. Those that follow through and successfully complete all phases of the process will find that the career of being a firefighter is very rewarding. We are providing this document to share with you important information about the application and testing process and about the department and what it offers. Inside this booklet you will find answers to some of your questions about testing and about a fire recruit s life once appointed to the job. Should you have a question that we do not address here, please feel free to call us. We acknowledge that being hired by us would be an important and life-changing event. We want to be sure that any questions, concerns or fears you may have are addressed so that you and your family can make an informed decision about your future. Our number is (815) The Joliet Fire Department has a mission which is To Save Lives and Protect Property. This is an obligation that we take very seriously. As you complete the steps of your application process, I want you to keep that in mind. Performing our mission, although simply stated, can be very difficult, but at the same time very rewarding. We must sometimes perform tasks under adverse conditions. Many times, our mental and physical abilities are challenged well beyond our limits. We are willing to accept this mission because of the difference we can make in people s lives. This is not the glamorous and oversimplified job that TV sometimes portrays. You will be required to dedicate yourself to your career. It will require you to be prepared and to perform your duties anytime of the day or night.
5 4 As Fire Chief of the Joliet Fire Department, here is the type of person that we are looking for: We are looking for the person that cares about people and wants to make a difference in their lives. We do not need an individual that knows it all, but instead, one that wants to learn it all. We need team players the Fire Department is all about teamwork. We need people that are hard workers and care about the quality of their work. We need people that are willing to do whatever it takes to perform their duties. These words are meant to encourage and prepare you for the career you are applying for. I wish you the best of luck during the process and hope that some day you will be a member of our great Department. Sincerely, Joe Formhals Joe Formhals Fire Chief
6 5 Firefighter Entry-Level Physical Ability Examination Study Guide Applicant Study Guide INTRODUCTION This study guide is designed to describe the physical tasks you will be required to perform for the Joliet, Illinois Firefighter Physical Ability Examination. You will increase your chances of obtaining a passing score if you spend a fair amount of time preparing for the test. This includes thoroughly reviewing this study guide, following the specific directions regarding attire, paying proper attention to your physical well-being before the test, and taking care to avoid becoming overly anxious about the test. OVERVIEW OF THE TESTING PROCESS Among other physical tasks, firefighters must be able to advance hoses until they are fully extended, drag victims to safety, climb ladders, and carry equipment. The Joliet Firefighter Physical Ability Examination will measure job-related physical skills such as these which are necessary for successful performance as a firefighter. Only those skills which do not require training to become proficient will be assessed. The examination is equally valid for assessing the physical skills of applicants with firefighting experience and those without. For example, one portion of the test requires the applicant to drag a supply hose for about 83 feet. It is not necessary to have prior experience as a firefighter to possess the physical ability to drag a hose. TEST PREPARATION The following suggestions should help you prepare yourself physically for the test: Begin a progressive exercise program including as a minimum: push-ups, pullups, and leg-presses weeks prior to the test. Also begin a progressive cardio vascular program of running, biking, or swimming weeks prior to the test. However, please consult your doctor prior to beginning an exercise program.
7 6 Avoid junk food and maintain a well-balanced diet for several days before the test. Avoid tranquilizers and stimulants such as caffeinated beverages, especially on the day of the test. Get a good night s sleep before the test. Do not drink a lot of liquids or eat a large meal before the test. Avoid alcohol several days prior to and especially on the day of the test. On the day of testing, all applicants are required to wear: Long pants (shorts are not allowed for safety reasons) Sport shoes Other gear will be provided by the department (bunker coat, Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and helmet) Knee pads are recommended for the blind-crawl test. A water bottle is also recommended to remain hydrated. PLEASE NOTE: YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE EXAMINATION IF YOU ARE NOT WEARING LONG PANTS (e.g. jeans, sweats). DESCRIPTION OF THE TEST An orientation and walk through will be given by a test administrator to all applicants prior to the actual examination. Applicants must fully understand what is expected of them before being allowed to take the test. All events must be performed safely and as designated. The test is composed of the following events: Non-timed Events: 1. Aerial Climb: The fire department s aerial apparatus will be extended at an angle of approximately 75 degrees. A belay line will be strung through the top rung of the ladder to serve as a safety line. Applicants will be tethered to the belay line and will, upon instruction, ascend and descend the ladder. Applicants must make continuous progress up and down the ladder without stopping or pausing excessively. Applicants shall be considered to have reached the top of the ladder when they can place both hands on the top rung. Applicants will be given plenty of time to complete the aerial climb event.
8 7 2. Blind-Crawl: Applicants will be led to the entrance of a doorway where they will grab on to a section of rope. With a darkened facemask covering their eyes, applicants must follow the rope through to the other side of a dark room. Letting go of the rope will result in disqualification. Maintaining a grip on the rope is important when fighting fires so one does not get lost in a smoky building, but for the test, it will ensure you progress all the way through the room. The Joliet Fire Department requires applicants to maintain a grip on the rope at all times. Applicants will be advised they may encounter obstacles along the way and that if this happens; they are to maneuver around or over all obstacles. When passage to the other side of the room has been completed, applicants will be permitted to remove the darkened mask. Timed Events: During the sequence of timed events, it is extremely important to pace yourself. Overexerting yourself early in the test may reduce the amount of energy you have left for exercises at the end of the test, such as the victim rescue. You are encouraged to walk briskly and deliberately through the examination to conserve energy and to perform the test safely through the last few exercises. 1. Hose Drag: Timing starts with this event. Applicants will pull a 5 inch supply hose with a coupling attached a distance of 100 feet and set it on the ground. The end of the hose may be placed over a shoulder or grasped with both hands. The hose will be prearranged on the ground in a similar fashion for each applicant. 2. Hydrant Opening: A hydrant wrench will be in place on the operating nut on top of the hydrant. An applicant, using hands only, will turn the hydrant wrench counter-clockwise about three-quarters of a turn until water starts to come out of the hydrant.
9 8 3. Charged Hose Advance: The applicant will pick up the nozzle and move a 1 ¾ inch charged (i.e. filled with water) hose for a distance of approximately 55 feet and set the nozzle on the ground. The end of the hose may be placed over a shoulder or grasped with both hands. The hose will be pre-arranged on the ground in a similar pattern for each applicant. 4. Fan Carry: After advancing the hose line, the applicant will pick up a standard steel exhaust fan weighing approximately 50 pounds, carry it a distance of approximately 30 feet, and place it on a window ledge approximately 4 feet from the ground. 5. Ladder Extension: The applicant will pull the halyard rope until the ladder is fully extended, as confirmed by a test monitor. Applicants must raise the halyard using a hand-over-hand motion, and they have to control the lowering of the ladder using a hand-over-hand motion. If the applicant drops the ladder, they must repeat the event from the beginning. 6. Stair Climb: After raising and lowering the ladder, the applicant will pick up the hose pack and carry it safely to the third floor of the training tower using the inside stairs of the building. Applicants are to hoist the hose pack over one shoulder and proceed up the stairs to the third floor. Applicants will then drop the hose in the designated area and then proceed back down the stairs. Test monitors lower the hose pack to the ground in preparation for the next candidate. 7. Victim Rescue: The applicant will grab a rescue dummy weighing approximately 150 pounds under the arms and drag (not carry) the dummy a distance of 100 feet, whereupon timing of the events will stop. The applicant may drag the dummy by placing one arm under
10 9 the arm of the dummy and the other arm over the shoulder of the dummy and around its neck. Again, carrying the dummy is prohibited. The test is completed and the total time is recorded. Additional Information: 1. The examination will be administered only as weather permits. 2. Before testing begins, conserve energy by sitting and waiting for your turn. The examination is physically demanding, and you will need your energy. 3. Before beginning the test, each applicant will try on the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and adjust the straps as necessary to ensure it is comfortable. A test monitor will be present to assist with any equipment adjustments. 4. Bunker coat and helmet, which are provided, shall be worn throughout the course of the examination. In addition, applicants are required to wear long pants (e.g. jeans, sweats) and encouraged to wear sport shoes. Applicants are not permitted to wear shorts. 5. The test begins with two non-timed exercises. These are the blind-crawl and the aerial climb. Applicants unable to successfully complete either of these exercises will not be allowed to continue with the testing process. 6. During the sequence of timed events, for safety reasons, applicants are encouraged not to run between stations but to pace themselves and conserve energy. Applicants that maintain a brisk and deliberate pace should be able to complete the test within the time limits. 7. Applicants able to complete the entire sequence of exercises successfully within a four minute and twenty-eight second period pass the test. On the following page is a drawing showing the physical ability test layout and sequence. Good Luck! Brian Lucca Brian Lucca Battalion Chief of Operations
11 (1) Aerial Climb (2) Blind-crawl Exercise (3) Hose Drag (4) Hydrant Opening (7) Ladder Extension END A (6) Fan Carry (8) Stair Tower Climb (5) Charged Hose Advance Traffic Cones N END B
12 11 Training Division The Joliet Fire Department (JFD) does not require a candidate to have previous training, certification or experience in firefighting or emergency medical services. There are candidates who test with us that do have a background in either fire or EMS but then there are also those who have never been exposed to any form of emergency response training. Whatever the situation, all new Joliet Firefighters start at the same place the Fire Fighter II Academy. The minimum, pre-employment educational requirements established by the Fire and Police Board are set with the notion that the recruit should be able to learn and then perform all that is required of them. The basic building blocks of the educational process such as reading, writing and speech are vital to both the learning process and the career process. We find that many of our candidates have been away from high school or college for quite a while and will find the return to school and training to be a challenge. It must be said that the learning process for a firefighter does not end with the 10 week Academy but rather, goes on until the last day of duty. The Fire Fighter II Training Academy is based on a Monday through Friday - 8am to 5pm work week. All newly hired personnel attend the Academy regardless of previous experience or certification. For the first week, the recruits go through a broad-based orientation and the issuing of duty clothing, firefighting gear and other equipment; and meet with City representatives who explain and help with the issues of payroll, insurance, legal and pension information as well as other employee benefits. Also during the first week, the recruit will visit all of our fire stations, meet some of our personnel and get their first look at our fire apparatus. The second week starts the real educational process! The Academy classes include lecture, hands-on sessions or a combination of both. The primary goal of the academy is to certify the recruit at the Firefighter II level as required by the Office of the State Fire Marshal. The recruit will study such topics as: Fire Behavior, Fire Streams, Ladders, Ventilation and Building Construction. A week long visit to an area Training / Burn Tower allows the recruit the chance to experience heat, smoke and fire under controlled conditions; and, a trip to a Flashover Simulator provides a very real insight on the behavior and danger of fire, but again, under controlled conditions. This gives the recruit an appreciation of the real hazards they will face on the job along with the knowledge of how to handle these conditions. The skills that are learned throughout the Academy are reinforced under the direction of veteran firefighters, and teamwork is stressed to safely and effectively accomplish given assignments. Throughout the Academy, the recruit s progress is tracked by way of daily quizzes, practical skill exams and instructor input. Strengths are reinforced and weaknesses are
13 addressed by the instructors - veteran firefighters who have specialized in their subject matter and are some of the most experienced firefighters in the area. 12 There are nearly twenty different topics that must be covered for the Fire Fighter II competency level. State testing requirements include both written exams and psychomotor (practical skills) testing. It is mandatory to pass these exams to be a firefighter for Joliet or anywhere in Illinois. A candidate is given three chances to pass the State test. A candidate must pass the State required exams to continue their employment. Along with the required Fire Fighter II classes, a JFD recruit will have numerous classes that are specific to our department. Some examples of these classes are: Safety, selfcontained breathing apparatus, rescue, Thermal Imaging Systems, water / ice rescue, fireground tactics and strategy, basic EMS and the Incident Command System. Remember, our department requires each new recruit to be certified as both a firefighter and paramedic to satisfy their probationary requirements. During the last week of the Academy, the recruit receives training in the area of Hazardous Materials Response / Weapons of Mass Destruction. The 8 hour Awareness class is part of our mandatory curriculum and is given as part of the 40 hour Hazardous Materials Operations level certification. A graduation ceremony concludes the successful academy for each new firefighter. This ceremony welcomes both the firefighter and his entire family into our larger, family of Joliet Firefighters. The Fire Service is a paramilitary organization that requires a special individual and special behavioral skills not commonly required in other professions. Personal discipline and attitude are stressed throughout the Academy. Recruits are taught that they are held to a higher level of conduct - whether on or off duty. They are taught to have pride and conduct themselves with honor as a member of the Joliet Fire Department. Brian Plyer Brian Plyer Battalion Chief of Training
14 13 Emergency Medical Services Have you ever wanted to have a career that is listed as one of the most trusted of all occupations? Do you enjoy helping others? Are you a team player? If you answered yes to these questions, then this is the career for you. You will respond to medical emergencies including: heart attacks, stroke, anxiety attacks, respiratory emergencies and possibly even help in the delivery of a baby! However, you will also attend to people who have suffered great losses and you will be the person who everyone will look to for answers. This job requires individuals to work under extremely stressful conditions. This is an occupation - a profession unlike any other. The Emergency Medical Services provided by the Joliet Fire Department (JFD) is a very important part of our organization. All applicants must become a paramedic to be a Joliet Firefighter. All recruits who are not already EMS state certified will be enrolled in the Joliet Junior College (JJC) Emergency Medical Technician Basic (EMT-B) course after finishing their Firefighter II Academy. This course typically runs 3 ½ months and meets three times a week. The student must first pass this class in order to apply for and challenge the Emergency Medical Technician Paramedic (EMT-P) course. That course, which is held at Silver Cross Hospital as a JJC accredited class, is approximately 1,000 hours (12 month class) and meets three times each week. The student must pass this course to continue employment with the Joliet Fire Department and satisfy their probationary requirement. All educational expenses required by the Department will be paid for including: tuition, books and overtime, if applicable, to attend classes while offduty. Some of the skills needed to be a paramedic include: technical report writing, medical terminology, metric conversions, mathematics, public speaking, and critical thinking. Students should also prepare their family for the 18 months of intense educational training you will be participating in and dedicating your time to. During this period, the student spends countless hours studying, completing hospital practical skills rotations and attending classes. This process continues while the student is working every third day on
15 their duty shift. Again, each student must pass the EMT-P course and be licensed as a paramedic. This is a condition of employment. 14 EMT-Basic The EMT-B class is a 120+ hour basic medical class which requires an additional 16 hours of emergency room experience and at least 8 hours working on a JFD ambulance. This is a very important part of the EMS providers knowledge base and should not be taken lightly. The students who do well in this class will more than likely do well in the paramedic class. If the student passes this class with an 80% on the final exam (EMT-B class must be directly preceding the EMT-P class) then the student can waive the entrance exam for the EMT-P class. EMT-Paramedic The EMT-P class is an advanced life support (ALS) class. Those who pass this intense course will receive an ALS license from the State of Illinois Department of Public Health. This class includes a great deal of practical hands on opportunities in local hospitals. The student will work in the emergency room, obstetrics, surgical suite, pediatrics, geriatrics and psychological areas of the hospital. The student will receive hands-on experience with several Joliet ALS units under a Department mentor who will assess numerous skills and abilities. Joliet Fire Department students historically score very high in this program and are expected to be at the top of their class. Medical Career Once the firefighter recruit has passed the paramedic program he/she will have attained the goal of becoming a City of Joliet Firefighter/Paramedic. But this is only the beginning of the educational process. Medics are required to attend at least 120 hours of continuing education in a four-year period to maintain their paramedic status. Joliet Medics respond over 15,000 times per year for medical calls. More than 80% of a firefighter s career is spent on the delivery of pre-hospital medical services. Medics will face more legal and ethical issues everyday and are required to reconstruct past calls for service. The ability to write a good technical report will assist the medic in court cases and depositions. The ability of writing good reports is a critical skill. Medics respond to many emergencies including: trauma, cardiac, strokes, diabetics, motor vehicle accidents, imminent birth, psychological problems and drug abuse. The medic is required to have an extensive knowledge base to assist in any
16 problem. Although the medic is utilized at many incidents that have positive outcomes they also respond to some horrific emergencies in which they must remain calm, act appropriately and be able to take control of the situation. Other Services and Opportunities The Joliet Fire Department offers many opportunities to utilize your medical skills for special assignment duty. Our medics provide EMS at local concerts, parades, marathons, NASCAR, NHRA and IRL races, festivals and riverboat casinos. In the past, medics have worked at Chicagoland Speedway as medics for NASCAR which is broadcast on national television. They have worked at many concerts including the B- Bash, Grateful Dead and N SYNC. We currently provide EMS services to a Joliet casino on a 24 - hour basis. Joliet Medics have the satisfaction of knowing that they have the training and the knowledge to handle any emergency. 15 In Closing..... You will find that being a paramedic with the Joliet Fire Department is a very rewarding career. Being a Firefighter/Paramedic will require you to hold yourself to a higher standard. Your neighbors, family and friends will look to you for advice and come to you for emergencies. The fire department is a close family that is always willing to help anyone in need. I have found that this career has been exciting, enjoyable and rewarding I believe that you will, too. Tim Carlin Tim Carlin, Battalion Chief of EMS
17 16 A Day in the Life of a Joliet Firefighter It s hard to imagine being at work for 24 hours straight. But that s exactly the routine shift length for members of the Joliet Fire Department. You start at 7am and go home at 7am the next day. So how do you spend those long hours? 7am The Shift Begins First, the traditional fire house routine always revolves around the kitchen. Just like at home, the family comes together there to start the day. Like every good firefighter, you arrived at your assigned station by 6:45am so you can be briefed by the firefighter you are relieving. It s important to know what happened the day before you work and what equipment might need to be checked over. By 7am, you re at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee, your officer and the rest of the crew. All of our stations have at least two pieces of apparatus so there s a minimum of 5 personnel at each station. From 7am until about 7:30am, everyone just talks - about work, home, the news of the day, sports, family or what s for lunch. But this time also allows the officer the chance to give important directions and information about the coming day s schedule. At 7:30am, one of the on-duty Shift Commanders gives the morning radio briefing and provides even more notes of interest and information about the day s schedule. After the briefing, the workday really begins. Every piece of our front-line apparatus: fire engines, aerials, ambulances, and battalion chief buggies are thoroughly checked everyday. From the motor s fluid levels, the tire pressure, emergency lights and all the equipment carried on the rig is checked to insure that everything is ready to perform. After all your life depends upon it. Your officer will then sign the vehicle s check sheet and probably will ask you a few simple questions about your inspection. During this time all equipment is also cleaned. Every piece of apparatus is washed and the apparatus floor is cleaned. Now, we re on to the house work! The fire station is your home away from home and is treated as such. Just like at home, the house needs cleaning and in our case, it gets a good cleaning everyday. The carpets are vacuumed; the tile is mopped; the garbage is taken out; and yes, the toilets are cleaned too. As a rookie, you can expect to get a few of these important but not very glamorous jobs. Don t worry; it s all a harmless - but important part of paying your dues.
18 We consider Monday through Friday our regular work week. On these days, the department s staff and administrative officers are at work too, so most of our training happens during the week. On most weekdays, you can expect some kind of training: overall fire related topics are usually covered during the first and second weeks of the month; EMS (medical) training is scheduled for the third week and our Special Teams train during the fourth week of the month. Most training sessions last about 90 minutes. But that s only part of the training story. Your officer has his own training requirements for you: company drills; quick drills and call reviews that are an important part of our training experience. 12 noon - Lunch for Us, is Dinnertime Most people have their main meal in the early evening; 5 or 6pm. For us, the main meal dinner, is usually at 12 noon. This fire house tradition has been around for more than 150 years. The original thought was that after a light breakfast and a busy morning, a big, noon dinner gave you the energy to tackle the rest of the day. But also, we have an unwritten policy that our workday starts at 7am and goes until 5pm. After that, a more relaxed routine is observed and this gives the day s cook some free time of his own. You will be asked to contribute to the day s grocery expense (about $10 - $15 per person) and usually a small contribution toward general use, kitty items such as coffee, spices, the cable TV bill and the newspaper bill. This usually costs everyone another $2 per day. But for your money you can expect some of the best food you ve ever had after all, fire house cooks are some of the best in world. And yes, you too will be expected to take a turn doing the grocery shopping and in the kitchen and not only doing dishes! After lunch and the required clean-up, the afternoon can hold several different options. On some days, there s training classes; on some days you ll be out performing a fire prevention inspection or school visit; sometimes its hydrant testing, driver s training, snow shoveling, grass cutting, window washing, hose testing or studying on your own. The afternoons can be very busy. The Unofficial Workday Ends 5pm By 5pm, your day is starting to wind down. After 5pm, you are allowed to relax a little; watch TV, work-out or even wash your car (if the officer says it s OK). By 6pm, its time to eat supper. This is often a take-off on the lunch theme: ham sandwiches from the ham shank at lunchtime, hamburgers are another favorite usually nothing very complicated, easy to cook and to easy clean-up. After supper, you re allowed to spend your evening at the station as you d like. You might read a book, study for your next EMT test or maybe even attend your class. At 9pm, you are allowed to go to bed. And if you re lucky, that s where you ll stay until it s time to go home the next morning. 17
19 18 Emergency Calls Don t Interrupt Our Work They Are Our Work You may have noticed that there has been no mention yet of responding to emergency calls. That s because these requests know no time, no day, no weather and are always unpredictable. You ll have calls at 6:50am just as you walk in the door; at 12 noon as you sit down at the dinner table; at 9:15pm right after you ve fallen asleep; at 2am when waking up is really hard and at 6:55am just before you re supposed to go home. You ll respond to fires when it s hot and humid or cold and frozen; sometimes you ll be gone from the station for hours missing more than one meal; sometimes you ll help save someone s life and other times, you ll be there when their life ends. It s all a part of your day in the life of a firefighter.
20 19 WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE MARRIED TO A FIREFIGHTER? Hello, my name is Debbie Brozman. As a wife of a Joliet Firefighter, I was asked to share some thoughts and personal experiences to the spouses and family members of potential new recruits. When I think back to those early years I remember the joy and excitement that filled us both as he began this new career. But at the same time I knew that our lives would change completely. You see, firefighters don t work a 9 to 5 schedule. Rather they work a 24 hour shift and then are off for 48 hours. That means that every third day he would be gone from 7 a.m. till 7a.m. the next day. Now those of you whose spouses or fathers may have worked shift work might be used to being alone at night. But if you re like me, and had a dad who was always home during the night time hours, this is a real adjustment. You also have to be aware that occasionally they can be held over for another 24 hours if there is a need for additional manpower. Also, keep in mind that if something goes wrong in the house, for example, an appliance breaks down, or the furnace or airconditioner is not working properly, or you have car trouble, it has been my experience that 9 times out of 10 it will be on a day that his shift is on duty. You find yourself becoming very resourceful. One useful tool is the shift calendar. You will find it necessary to refer to this calendar to plan family events or even selecting dates to join friends. In time, your friends will recognize that your spouse works a little different than most, but advanced planning usually allows you to attend important events. As time went on I found that I liked the schedule and the flexibility it provided. When our children were born I was able to work part-time and my husband was able to watch them while I was a substitute teacher. In some families mom may decide to stay home with the children and because of the schedule, dad may be able to have a part time job. I went back to work full time when our
21 20 youngest child started first grade. It was nice because Dave was home on some days to help with chores around the house and meal preparation, enabling us to eat a nice meal together as a family, avoiding the fast food world. We could also schedule orthodontist appointments on his off day and he could assist with chauffeuring to sports practices and music lessons. The only difficulty was the holidays. Christmas was always the hardest when the children were little. Family gatherings would always be arranged around his work schedule. The next topic which I need to address is that of the worry or fear you may have for them. Let s face it, this is one of the most dangerous professions and I would be lying if I said that I was never scared or worried. Phone calls or pagers going off in the middle of the night calling him out to help fight a serious fire were the most agonizing. To be sure, you would get little sleep the remainder of the night. A phone call at home or at work telling me he has been taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries he has sustained while fighting a fire is especially nervewracking. But there are some factors which have helped me to cope and deal with these feelings. 1. Training: I always felt that my husband had been trained to do his job. Training is an on-going never ending process that can be demanding but very important. 2. Education: Taking classes at Joliet Junior College in the area of fire science and the paramedic training he received helped him understand the job and prepare him to deal with emergency situations. 3. The Spirit of Camaraderie: I always knew that he was not alone in doing his job. The older more experienced firefighters and officers would always look out for the new guy. 4. Faith in God: I always believed that anyone who puts their own life in danger to save that of another, God has to watch over in a special way.
22 21 Finally, when your spouse gets assigned to a shift, those firefighters will become like an extended family. This becomes his or her home away from home. I would encourage you to get to know the families of the other firefighters. You will share the same emotions and experiences. This will be a support system for you and some long lasting friendships will develop. Today, we live in a time in which we have become very critical and skeptical of many of the professions in our society. For example, think of the roles of politicians, lawyers, doctors, even my own profession of teachers are not held in the esteem they once were. Firefighting is one of the few professions left which people still look up to and admire. They respect the courage that these men and women demonstrate on a daily basis. It is for this reason that I always feel a great deal of pride when someone asks what my husband does for a living, and I can say, He is a Joliet Firefighter. Sincerely, Debbie Brozman