If it has always been your desire to become a firefighter, you likely fantasize about the many ways you will get to be a hero in other peoples’ stories. After all, firefighters are truly fearless individuals who risk their lives every single day for the lives of others. However, one aspect of becoming a firefighter that people do not often talk about is the toll the profession can take on a person’s mental health. Not only does it become difficult to be separated from your family and friends for days at a time, but not every call that a fire station gets about a local fire is going to result in triumph. There are certainly many bad days that come with having such an emotionally draining job. This is where the second family comes in.
Since firefighters do work such long shifts and have to stay at the firehouse for such extended periods of time, a second family is often created between those working together. Not only does this second family help to make the day-to-day of a firefighter easier, but it also is important as it creates a cohesive unit and therefore increases the likelihood of a team being successful in a highly stressful situation.
It is important that you know that firefighters often play very different roles in their first families than they do in their second families. In their first family, a firefighter is expected to fill the role of a spouse, parent, breadwinner, and more. In the second family, a firefighter may need to fill the role of an individual or as the member of a team, while also juggling organizational and mission responsibilities.
Often, balancing these two roles can take quite a toll on a firefighter. In this post, we are going to discuss some of the ways the stress of this job can have a negative impact on a firefighter’s mental health and how you, as a future firefighter can combat this once you begin your career in a firehouse.
Strategies For Handling this Stress-Filled Job
Clearly working such long hours and being in life and death situations daily is enough to stress anyone out. Because of this, it is important that you are aware of how to balance your first and second family while also performing optimally at your job. Below are just a couple of ways by which you can do this.
Know What is Expected of You
A vital part of being a fireman is knowing the difference between the terms “responsibility”, “authority”, and accountability. These terms are not synonymous, but they are all equally important if you want to ensure that you are doing right by your real family and your work family.
Provide Feedback Often
Being willing to provide job performance feedback to individual members of your team is incredibly important whether we are talking about your team at home or your team at the firehouse. At the end of the day, you need to tell people how you not only feel about how they are doing their job, but how your personal performance is affecting you.
Set Expectations from the Beginning
Creating high expectations for yourself and for the members of your team from the get-go is extremely important, after all, there are lives on the line here. Not to mention, research has shown time and time again that those who are members of high-performing teams suffer from less internal stress and as a result, will respond better when they are put under pressure, ie. fighting a fire.
Train Often & Hard
You are going to be more tired than you ever thought was humanly possible on certain days, but training is how you prepare yourself for real emergencies and therefore rigorous training is imperative. Seeing as how firefighters have to be ready at all times to respond to an emergency, there is simply no such thing as too much training.
Need Help Preparing For Your CPS Test?
If you are already making mental preparations to become a firefighter but you want to make sure you are going to pass your written exams with flying colors, we would suggest you utilize the test prep materials available at Test Ready Pro. Check out how we can help you on our site right now.