Firefighters do not live at the fire station. However, they might occasionally sleep at the fire station during long shifts.
There is always a group of firefighters ready to respond to our calls because they have to adhere to rigorous working hours. Firefighters are often divided into units that have to operate the station for 24-hour shifts.
Normally from 8 am to 8 pm. This is then followed by a 48 hour off duty. So technically, a firefighter will live 1/3 of his or her career life at the station.
1. Do Firefighters Live at the Fire Station?
Firefighters do not usually live at the fire station. However, the government does provide some essential resources to make their stay more comfortable. Firefighters tend to have downtime when on duty- but they have to be ready to respond when needed.
Therefore, in most stations, you will find areas designated for resting, cooking, showering and changing. This is essential given the number of hours they have to clock in when on duty.
2. Do Firefighters work a 24 hour Shift?
This depends on their contract. But normally, firefighters work for nine days each month. This might sound exciting to those who have to work 5 days each week. However, when you take to account the working hours, you might rethink your initial stand.
The problem with having a 24-hour shift is that it completely disrupts your lifestyle. If you have a family, you might find it hard to spend as much time as you wanted with them. Your sleeping pattern is distorted, and you have to adapt to a new system. Thus firefighters have to be psychologically and emotionally prepared to take up their roles.
Why is there a 24-hour Shift for Firefighters?
There is no other sector that has such an unusual working schedule, even police officers. So why are firefighters forced to follow this strict routine? Well, this system is as old as the fire fighting force. It was introduced in the 1800s when fire stations had begun cropping up in big cities in the USA.
Back then, firefighters actually lived in the stations. Therefore, they did not have “shift”- instead, they were required to be ready when duty called. Thus, most of the people that worked there were poor young men.
As time went by, the profession became more recognized, and people who also wanted to support families started to join the force. This meant that the number of firefighters was growing, and the city fire department could no longer house all of them. This is why they introduced the 24-hour shift in the 1900s.
Advantages of the 24-hour Shift System
The 24-hour shift allowed them to request off days, and it also enabled the fire station to have people manning the station at all times. Apart from this, the system does have some other advantages, for example:
- The crew can handle checks, paperwork and operations throughout the day.
- Some incidents can take a long time to get under control, for example, a big fire. Therefore it isn’t easy to coordinate teams that work for shorter periods.
- Firefighters get enough time to write their reports.
- The handing over is more efficient.
- Firefighting requires diligence; therefore, having crew members who want to rush their job just to finish their shifts can be very dangerous.
How do Firefighters Endure The 24 Hour Shift?
Even if firefighters do not technically live at the station, they spend a significant amount of time there. This can be very stressful due to things such as sleep deprivation and fatigue. So how do our heroes manage do endure such conditions?
- Most firefighters are self-motivated, and they respect their work
- They understand their roles and adhere to their responsibilities diligently
- There is a shift officer who ensures everyone rolls with the shift flow
- Firefighter work as a team; thus, they tend to develop very tight bonds and help each other.
- The crew members are allowed to take a power nap now and then as long as it does not interfere with their duties.
3. Do Firefighters Sleep at the Station?
Yes, usually they do! If you’re working a 24 or 48 hour shift, you need to get some sleep to stay alert.
In larger stations, there will always be at least one firefighter awake. But each firefighter on duty can take time to sleep and get their much-needed rest before getting up and returning to their duties.
Many firefighters you come across will tell you that they do not sleep very heavily at the station. Their subconscious mind is telling them that they need to be alert and ready to jump up if they receive a call. So, 2-7 hours of light (and often interrupted) sleep might be all they get during a shift.
Furthermore, if blackout curtains and personalized sleeping pods are not utilized, firefighters will often find themselves waking when nearby colleagues are roused.
This means that after the shift, many firefighters will have a long sleep at home to recuperate before returning to their civilian life, and to make sure they’re rested up for their next long shift at the station.
What do Firefighters do at Night?
At night, firefighters have to be ready to attend a call out. So, you’ll always find a fire station manned. However, at night firefighters will do a variety of things, including:
- Sleeping if tasks are completed.
- Attending call outs.
- Cleaning and maintenance duties.
- Study to pass professional tests and exams.
Do firefighters get paid to Sleep?
Yes, if a firefighter is sleeping at the station, they will get paid. They are on duty, after all. They will be expected to wake up if they get a call and go straight into action.
However, it’s worth noting that there are certain firefighters who are not paid – volunteer firefighters. These firefighters might get a call late at night to attend a fire or emergency, but they’re usually at home when they receive that call.
So in general, if a firefighter is sleeping on duty at the station, they’re likely to be paid for that.
4. What is a typical day for a firefighter?
Firefighters are not always out and about dealing with emergencies. So what do they do when they are not saving lives?
Most fire stations require their personnel to arrive at least one hour early. This will help to efficiently relief off-going firefighters. During the morning hours, one is expected to complete their daily chores, such as shopping.
During their shifts, the crew members live and eat together at the station. That is why most have a solid bond with each other and live like a family. Each firefighter is expected to participate in daily chores such as cleaning and cooking. These duties are usually designated in the morning.
After they are done with their chores, they have to carry out mandatory operational training in most stations. The time when this is carried out might vary from station to station. Physical exercises and fitness tests often follow operational training to ensure that they remain healthy.
Other things that firefighters do include.
- Equipment testing and training: It is the duty of the firefighters to ensure that all their equipment and machinery are in good condition.
- Public outreach: Today, firefighters are required to teach the public on matters relating to fire prevention, how to extinguish fires and much more.
- Reporting and documentation: Firefighters must document every detail about any incident they respond to.
- Relax and eat: The nature of their work is very stressful. That is why, even when on duty, they are given a chance to relax. Most stations have a lounge and a TV room for recreation.
- Responding to emergencies: When there is an incident, firefighters must be ready to respond swiftly. This will involve arriving at the scene, assessing the situation, rescuing those injured or trapped and extinguishing the fire.
Firefighters work for 56 hours each week. These hours are divided into 24-hours shift. Given the nature of their schedule, firefighters spend a lot of time at the station. This system is meant to ensure that there is always a crew ready to respond to an emergency whenever it occurs. While they do not technically live at the station, they cook, clean, shower and occasionally sleep there.