This is a wee insight into the heartbreak I’ve had to endure as the wife of a firefighter.
It’s what you don’t see…
He contemplated taking his life not because he didn’t love his life, not because he didn’t love his job, not because he didn’t love his family. The reason was he wanted to stop the movie reel of those who had passed over well he was at a job, the people that he held their hand while they passed, the traumatic scenes he had seen, not just accidents, the suicides especially teenagers, the murder scenes he has had to provide scene cover for, the babies he couldn’t save, the medical calls, the blood, the vomit the feces. And on top of all that the piercing screams of loved ones. The questioning of could he have done something different, could he have done more. After 22 years as a career firefighter, this is a man that has lost count of how many dead people he has seen.
These things changed him, he’d become distant, despondent, angry, irritable, short-tempered, always tired and would binge drink.
And quite honestly I wanted to leave him not because I didn’t love him but because after 6 years I was tired of walking on eggshells. I was tired of seeing my kids walking on eggshells.
Without getting into the nitty gritty, he did the work, we did the work and I am more in love with this man today than I have ever been. This is a man who would put his life on the line to save a stranger.
But I am one of the lucky ones. There are firefighters who have lost their marriages and relationships and their lives because this type of trauma is not recognised widely in the culture of FENZ.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is very REAL and the amount of stress and pressure this puts on our firefighters and their families on top of the overtime they are having to do to ensure that trucks are manned sufficiently so their community is protected plus the extra exposure to traumatic scenes and to receive such poor pay and working conditions is beyond comprehension.
This is a job not everyone can do, our firefighters are a rare and special breed and they deserve to be valued, appreciated, appropriately remunerated and respected by their employer.