For my entire life, my dad has been a volunteer firefighter for my city. This is different than having a parent who is a full-time firefighter because you never know when the next call will come. It could be in the middle of dinner, during a soccer match, or even at 2 in the morning. There is never any noticed and once the pager goes off there is a feeling of urgency in the air. While growing up, I have become accustomed to certain things that most kids my age never had to think twice about.
Here are 6 things that I've experienced while having a firefighting father.
1. Waking Up At All Hours Of The Night
I have always been a deep sleeper but the second I heard the pager go off in my parent's bedroom, I was wide awake. I usually ended up staying awake until I heard my dad come back home so I knew he was back safe. Waking up in the middle of the night will not only affect you but your firefighter parent as well. Even when my dad doesn't have a call during the night I sometimes still hear him up and moving around because his mind has been trained to always be on alert.
2. Hearing Firetrucks Honk As They Drive By
Anytime there is a call where the trucks have to pass by my house I always know that I will hear them before I see them. Even when my dad is out of town or at the firehouse, they will never fail to honk their horns as a hello. It's almost a prideful feeling because those driving the trucks are taking a second to recognize my dad as a friend and as a firefighter.
3. Falling Quiet The Second A Call Comes In
The second a call comes in and the first tone of the pager rings out everyone in the vicinity goes quiet. It's almost second nature. My dad listens for where he will be heading off next and I listen for familiar roads of friends and family. This was a learned skill that my sisters and I all learned fairly quickly when we were younger.
4. Mistakenly Asking What The Worst Call Was
This was a mistake I made when I was still in elementary school. I asked my dad what was the worst firecall he had ever been to. I didn't realize this at the moment but by just asking the question I had forced my dad to relive that call in his mind. He never answered my question but instead told me to never ask him that again because that is something he will never share that memory.
5. Learning Fire Safety
From the earliest second of my life, I knew what to do in the event of a fire. We have our family meeting spot, all of the possible exits, which neighbor to go to if we have no other way to call 911. These lessons went into practice every time my mom burned food and my sisters and I would crawl down the hallway just to meet my dad at the bottom, laughing while telling us everything is okay. Even as he chuckled at us we could tell he was still proud that his lessons meant something for us. I also learned how to properly ventilate a house after catching garlic bread on fire in my microwave. Sorry, Dad.
6. Knowing I'll Always Be Protected and Loved
This was something I've always cherished. Knowing that my dad has dedicated nearly half his life helping others but still managed to prioritize his family, is something that I love about him. He has taught me how to fight for others and fight for myself. My dad is my hero. I know that no matter what event in life happens he will be by my side. Protecting me but not shielding me. He lets me make my own choices and if I get hurt I know he will be there to help me put myself back together.