Civilians understand, somewhat, that fire fighting training is not easy and takes extreme determination and perseverance; but there are a few nitty-gritty details, about the real sacrifice that they will never understand. For many ordinary people, the first thig that comes to mind when they think of a firefighter or a firefighter in training is a big red fire truck, fireproof uniforms, a hard fire hat and a huge hose that has a very high water pressure – but this is not even the half of it. There are numerous daily sacrifices that firefighters and firefighters in training make that no salary will ever be able to repay.
So, we all know that fire fighting training is no easy feat – but do we know the real sacrifice that training to be a firefighter really is? If you are considering undergoing firefighting training, here is a list of things that you should know about firefighters before you embark on your journey:
Firefighters risk their lives to ensure that we always feel safe in our homes and with the treasures that we own. Firefighters not only respond to calls that involve fires. They respond to various emergency situations which requires them to be on their A-game all the time, sometimes without even knowing what dangers to expect.
Firefighters often sacrifice time with their partners, spouses, children, parents, and other loved ones to save members of the public that they do not even know – at wee hours of the morning at that. Firefighters often miss out on birthdays, Christmases and other special occasions with family and friends to be on duty. Oh, and long weekends and public holidays? Those are also out of the question for firefighters.
They open themselves up to a higher risk of line-of-duty deaths and injuries. Not only are the number of firefighter deaths and injuries in an average year increasing; but there are also many retired firefighters that still suffer from the exposures that they encountered in their line-of-duty work. Many retired firefighters experience back and body aches and pains; respiratory ailments caused by exposure to chemicals, toxins and high levels of smoke; damage to their hearing; stress and anxiety disorders and PTSD.
They work tirelessly to make sure that our communities and environments that we are in are safe as possible. Once fire fighting training is done, a firefighter can work up to 72 hours per week, every week.
It takes a special sort of person to be a successful firefighter. Fire fighting training involves certain characteristics that cannot be taught:
- immeasurable sacrificeand willingness to go above and beyond,
- selfless and tireless dedicationto help and protect everyone around you,
- countless hours away from loved ones,
- bravery beyond compare,
- andfearless instinctual ability.
These inherent qualities and characteristics are vital to be possessed by someone that is looking into starting a fire fighting training course. There are many circumstances that you might encounter as a firefighter that no amount of training will ever be able to prepare you for.
The truth about fire fighting training:
Fire fighters mourn more loss than we realise.
Some might think that, when choosing to undergo firefighting training, you are sacrificing your freedom to feel emotion and sadness because you will become numb to things that would frighten the ordinary. Yes, after becoming a firefighter, you will have seen it all. But that is just the thing – you will have seen it all!
In fire fighting training, you will learn how to be physically strong , but more importantly, you will learn how to be emotionally strong. As a firefighter, you are fighting front–line to save those in danger therefore you will feel the loss at the tips of your fingers after battles that you don’t win. After training to be a firefighter, you will often feel the void that is left by the loss of someone that you can’t even call by name.
Over your years as a firefighter, you will mourn the deaths of countless people that will suffer in the battles that you are fighting so hard to win – but you must stay strong and remember not all battles can be won but you can ALWAYS fight your hardest. Different firefighters will choose to grieve and mourn these losses in different ways – some will turn to their families and friends for comfort, some will swallow their pain, some will turn to alcohol and substances to numb that pain. Whatever the choice may be, your first loss will be just as impactful as your last and you will add the weight of every burn wound, scratch and bruise to the pile developing on your strong shoulders.
Fire fighters have to expect the unexpected.
Firefighter training is not for the faint-hearted. Many responsibilities come along with the job title that no one can prepare you for. You will have to be strong; you will have to have tough skin. Not only will you put out fires, mend injuries, pull people out of the windows of burning buildings, dismantle bodies from car wrecks, but you will also have to protect the living and unscathed members of the community from witnessing the true pain and horror of the events that you witness first-hand. You will mourn loss in your private ways and euphemize your recollection of these events so that our own loved ones and the public do not have to bear witness to the same pain.
The ultimate sacrifice of fire fighting training also includes the guilt that is felt after every moment that a life has failed to have been saved. The questions that you will ask yourself will be unfair – “could I have done more?”, “could I have acted faster?”, “could I have conducted myself better?”. These thoughts will play on repeat and the weight that you carry on your shoulders will get heavier and heavier every time that another person must be informed of a deceased loved one. You will carry this weight as you wonder how you will ever forget about the things that you have witnessed. How does one continue to live when they are constantly wondering if the outcome could have been different?
People always say that they can just imagine how difficult and horrendous it must be; but all that they can do is imagine. People will never feel the thickness of the air in their lungs when breathing in gusts of smoke. They will never bear witness to the horrors of seeing too much. They don’t have to return home with a smile on their face after rummaging through the wreckages of a freak accident.
The truth is that you will only understand the true horrors and sacrifices involved in firefighter training if you embark on the journey yourself. When people see things on screens, they never feel the true extremities that you will witness. It is a luxury to have to use your imagination as opposed to recalling a memory when a memory is full of smoke and dust and is so close to death.
Fire fighters have to learn more than just practical skills.
During fire fighting training, there is a lot that you will learn. Practical skills, fundamentals, tips on how to save a life, but there are some things that you can just never be taught or prepared for. There are times when (no matter how much you know) a situation will spiral out of control and you will have to rely on your instinctual abilities. Adrenaline will kick in and you will become someone with magical abilities. Your strength and endurance will surprise you each time. Sometimes you will be left wondering “how did I even do that!?”.
And that leads to the final point – “how did I even do that!?”.
As discussed above, there are MANY sacrifices and hardships that firefighters and firefighters in training face but there are also things that they do that they never imagined were ever possible. Firefighters accomplish the unimaginable and are the real-life versions of superheroes. The complex environments of firefighting and emergency rescue situations will have put a great toll on you, but you will have development in an all-rounded manner – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
You will have bonded with the idea of life; the idea that every moment counts, and you will have bonded with those around you, fighting to save the same lives. The brothers and sisters that you will gain during fire fighting training and when working as a firefighter will go through thick and thin with you and you will learn that sometimes, blood is not thicker than water. These bonds will be incomparable to anything that you have experienced up until now. All the hours that you spend away from your real family, will be spent with training and working alongside your firefighting family and you will grow strong together – you will become a unit that can achieve anything.
During emergency responses, there are many lives that are lost but, there are so many lives that are saved and that feeling, of just having saved a life, is second to none. Every single one of the many sacrifices that are made are rewarded 10-fold and the experiences that you gain will be invaluable. Through the situations that you will face in training, you will learn how to be tough and resilient; you will learn how to never give up and how to face fears that the ordinary will never have to face.
Your injuries will become battle wounds and your scars will become badges of honour that you will wear with pride. You will become the role model of many young girls and boys – you will be the face that they see when they are asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. For each sacrifice that you will make, you will be rewarded by limitless gratitude and endless admiration from those whose lives you have saved, their loved ones and from the public.
Emcare, a proudly South African Health and Safety training company, consists of multiple fully resourced facilities nationwide. These establishments are well equipped to provide all students undertaking firefighter training with the best education and skills needed to make them well-rounded and capable firefighters. When lives are at stake, it is necessary to provide the best training possible. Emcare ensures that all students are equipped with the necessary skills and abilities to handle themselves and to act accordingly in dire and dangerous situations.
Emcare offers a variety of courses including emergency and medical courses, health care and safety courses, fire fighting training and hazardous materials courses, rescue courses and more! Emcare enables their students in fire fighting training to make a huge difference in the safety of their surrounding communities and environments and because of the various establishments throughout South Africa, we can ensure that our whole country is a safe place. Enrol in a firefighter training course today. Trust us, it is worth every sacrifice.