Our Two Family’s: Let’s keep our priorities straight
The following is a collaborative effort between two fire service professionals, both whom are fathers, and both of whom have a passion for taking care of our families: those at home & our brothers & sisters in the fire house.
This is the beginning of a Blog series on the fire service & family values. We will discuss topics that directly relate to and are affecting fire service members & their families.
Matt Barnes: I’ve talked before about having the support of your family while pursuing and furthering your career in the fire service. They should know what you want, need and expect and vice versa. I think it’s important to have all your ducks in a row before you not only pursue the service, but before you leave your family at home to go to your fire family. I have to admit, I don’t always do this. The worse feeling is having your spouse call you saying your dog got out, or to fuss at you for not doing something, or to call and say they were leaving you. This is even a worse feeling when this happens right before a call.
Andy Starnes: The fundamental unity of human society and the center of God’s covenant activity is the family. In the fire service we are blessed with two families: our loved ones at home & our brothers/sisters at the fire house. We are a family unit like none other. We strive to support our families at home through our jobs (sometimes working 2-3 jobs) all the while we are attempting to better ourselves at our calling: through training, education, and constantly learning. This can be an overwhelming task, and sadly in our profession, we tend to over-focus on our fire department family while gradually beginning to neglect our loved ones at home. Then our world starts to crumble. How do we regain control?
Matt Barnes: You’re no use to the guys on shift if you’re not mentally prepared and focused. I’ve learned that sometimes, when it comes to families, it’s hard to equally balance both. Putting too much focus on one will in turn put the other on the back burner. I know this to be true from experience. Too much of my focus and attention was on the fire service and being at the station and doing what needs to be done there, that I neglected to put that much time and effort on my family at home. This caused so much of a big mess, which I may end up going from having two families, down to one. And let’s say this, I’m nothing without my wife and daughter, but not to have them by my side and betray their trust, is the worst feeling I’ve felt in a long time. No matter how you handle things at home, make sure that your family at home is happy, feels safe and can sleep peaceful at night knowing that they haven’t been put on the back burner.
Andy Starnes: Our discussion is one of great importance. The fire service is a tradition of brotherhood, courage, duty, and sacrifice that is based on true family values. Our great devotion for our calling as a firefighter should be strengthened by our desire to return home to our loved ones. They are the reason we work, we train, and we stay sharp. We are nothing without them. They are the reason we were able to be who we are today. If you or someone you know is a super devoted firefighter but you sense that they are beginning to neglect their first family (their wife/husband and kids) do the honorable thing: pull them aside, gently, and share with them our story. The fire service has one of the highest divorce rates of any profession (as high as 84% in some areas). Our jobs are stressful enough being away from our loved ones for 24-48 hours; Let’s all go home and take off the firefighter hat & be the man or woman you promised them you would be. Everyone should go home: Will your family be there waiting for you?
Firefighters: Your families need you! We always say “Never Forget”, well that should also be a reminder to you to “Never Forget” why you are doing this in the first place. Our foundation, those that hold the line for us, are our loved one’s at home. Stay focused and as driven to improve your abilities as a husband/wife as you are at becoming a better firefighter.
Andy Starnes & Matt Barnes
The Fire Service Family Devotional Series