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Finding Strength Beyond the Fire

Finding Strength Beyond the Fire















Finding Strength Beyond the Fire

As I sit here on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, with the kids having a blast in the pool and our grandbaby taking her daily nap, it feels like a picture-perfect day. But you know how life likes to keep things interesting – just when you are soaking up the goodness, it throws a curveball your way.

And boy, did it hit me – BAM! Anxiety and doom decided to crash my little paradise AGAIN, leaving me to go inside and deal with this again. I will not let it win; I am not one to back down. I begin to write in a journal and try to express my feelings and why they have occurred. I have learned to negotiate my way out of that confusing fear and anxiety, much like how we manage things when citizens need our help. Sometimes I win, and most of the time, it is a complete waste of time, back to square one with no answers.

What triggers these attacks? Is it a panic attack? My best question of all - am I normal? What is wrong with me? Being a firefighter comes with its sense of security, thanks to our profession, our trusty PPE, and the tough exterior we maintain. We are protected, almost untouchable, yet open to helping complete strangers.

But what happens when we step outside those familiar walls of the station and doors of the rig? It is like seeing the world from a separate set of eyes. Suddenly, I feel a little insecure, unsure of how to navigate beyond the firefighting realm.

The transition from firefighting daily culture to civilian life can be a daily struggle. We shift from dealing with fires, accidents, and being on high alert to navigating the mundane routines and everyday challenges of life outside the rig. It is like living in two worlds – one where we are warriors and another where we are ordinary individuals trying to make sense of it all.

It is perfectly fine to shed that tough exterior when we are off duty. Embracing our humanity does not diminish our heroism; instead, it empowers us further. Acknowledging our feelings and embracing vulnerability create room for growth and healing. I have gradually learned to open a little with my wife and counselor. It is a challenging journey, but it is progressing in the right direction.

When we complete our tour at the fire station, let us remind ourselves that it is okay to be human and experience struggles. At 46 years old, I have finally come to the realization that it is perfectly okay to struggle. Life can be overwhelming, and just like the people we help, we also require support. Our family still needs us, even when we are not in our firefighter uniform.

We have each other, and that is a bond that can withstand anything. Let us navigate life's difficulties, supporting and cheering each other on. By embracing our vulnerabilities, we can build stronger connections, both within ourselves and with our loved ones.

Stay courageous, stay true, and keep moving forward. Let us always remember the fallen (TDJ) and honor their memory as we continue to find strength beyond the fire.


  • Undeniably accurate. Thank you for putting this out. You’re a good man my friend!

    Jim Allen on

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