Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Turned Firefighters

Like many of my firefighter brothers and sisters, I am a military veteran. I was unable to dig up  statistics about the number of firefighters who also served in the military, but in my experience it's not an insignificant number. I fought fire alongside men and women who served in all branches of the service, including some who saw combat in several wars and conflicts.

Veterans typically adapt well to firefighting in part because fire departments are traditionally based on a paramilitary structure, meaning they operate in a manner similar to the military.
"The fire service is widely accepted as a paramilitary organization. Promotion is accompanied by a change in rank, and chain-of-command authority in an emergency situation is absolute…Just as the military is constantly preparing for war, fire departments are constantly preparing for an emergency." (Fire Service Administration, Grant & Hoover, 1994)
Today NPR ran a story about veterans who have become firefighters. "Vets-Turned-Firefighters Find Brotherhood, Purpose" spotlights a few of the 43 veterans hired this year by New Jersey's North Hudson Fire Department. The department plans to hire more veterans in 2014.
"Beyond just trying to find a job, many vets say after the military, they're still looking for a career with a sense of public service...the vets are disciplined and skilled and their military background makes them well suited to the job. The recruits say firefighting gives them the sense of camaraderie and purpose they miss."
To all veterans who have served, and continue to serve, thank you.


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