Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It Depends...

People tend to ask all sorts of questions about what it’s like to be a firefighter and how fire departments operate. Firefighters and departments are all different, so the only catch-all answer is, “It depends.”

“What’s it like to ride around in that big truck?” Well, it depends on whether the crew is driving around doing preplanning, responding to a structure fire, or going on the fifth medical call after midnight. The attitudes, conversations, and emotions in the cab of that engine or truck will vary depending on the situation at any given moment. (But most of the time, it is kinda fun!)

“How many ladder trucks do fire departments have?” That, of course, depends on the size of the department, the size of the community it protects, and whether there are even any buildings tall enough to justify such an expensive piece of equipment. Many small volunteer and/or combination departments don’t have ladder trucks because they simply aren’t needed.

“What is the typical work schedule for firefighters?” Again, it depends on the department. Emergencies happen 24/7, so most departments use some version of a 24-hour shift schedule – and there are quite a few varieties in use. Then there are the volunteer departments that may or may not have someone on duty at the station. Work schedules really do depend on the fire department in question.

Writers, you’ll simply have to do your research. Whether firefighters are your main characters, secondary characters, or just walking through a scene, make sure you find out how they operate in your particular setting.

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