There are people who immerse themselves in the fire service, eagerly consuming information, training, and incidents like kids in a candy store. They show up early, leave late, and always strive to be the best firefighters they can be. It’s a pretty common attitude to see among new firefighters, and for some, this attitude lasts an entire career and even beyond.
Then there are those for whom being a firefighter is just a job. They go to the station, do their work, and go home, giving nary a thought to the job until it’s time to report back to duty. Sometimes these folks come into the profession with the perspective of, “I was looking for a job when I found this one, and I can always find another one.” Others morph over the course of a career, going from the 24/7 enthusiastic firefighter to one who just punches the clock and counts the days to retirement.
And, of course, some firefighters ride the line between these two mindsets. They are proud to do the work they do, they work hard, and they enjoy the constant education of being a firefighter. But they are clear that firefighting is what they do; they don’t let the job define who they are.
For more on the subject, check out this Fire Engineering article written by Joseph Kitchen, who is the chief of the Bath Township Fire Department in Lima, Ohio. His “checklist” is a black and white look at “career” versus “job”, with no gray areas or overlap, but it gives some pretty good insight into firefighter perspectives about their chosen profession.