I'm a career firefighter/EMT working the back half of my 24 tonight. Things are slow and I'm bored. I'll be around for awhile unless we get a call, so AMA!

Proof: http://i.imgur.com/HwTnQWb.jpg If more proof is needed I can oblige!

EDIT: 1231 EST: Had a run, but we're back in business, keep the questions coming!

EDIT 2: Alright guys, it's right around 0230 EST now, and I've been at this for about 4 and a half hours, so I'm going to try to hit the bunk now. Keep asking your questions though, and I'll catch up in the morning!

EDIT 3: It's around 0730 EST and I'm back at my computer answering your questions, so keep them coming!

Comments: 248 • Responses: 65  • Date: 

Thebigsmallguitar117 karma

Do you physically fight fires and if so how many punches is your record for beating up the fire?

BostonFire15229 karma

Most fires have extreme endurance and can last into the 8th or even 9th round.

I punched a fire so hard once though, that I got suspended from the NFL for two games.

RobBobBert9541 karma

Is there any sort of role that you personally have at your job while in the field (IE are you always driving trucks, getting on the ladders, operating water?), or is it a mix?

And do all Firefighters have dalmations?

BostonFire1588 karma

All personnel have a role. So when you're on the engine, you'll have the engineer who drives the truck and operate the pump. These are guys that have generally been firefighters for 30 years and are getting a little old to be running in on structure fires. Then you'll have your officer in the other front seat, either a Liuetenant or Captain. Then you'll have 2-3 firefighters in the back, depending on the crew size. Just like any job, you work your way up the ladder to get promotions to different positions.

Actually, dalmations were originally bred back when firefighters used horse drawn water pumps. They were used both to keep the horses calm during the fire, and to protect the horses/carriage from theft or vandalism while the firefighters were fighting the fire. They became kind of symbol of the job, and while some stations still have a mascot dalmation at the fire house, I would say the vast majority do not.

RobBobBert9514 karma

Ok. That's pretty awesome man.

I'm currently in school right now to try to become an Environmental Conservation Officer in NYS. And I know I'll probably see some pretty horrific stuff if I make it (ECO's are the same ranking as State Troopers), so I'm wondering how you deal with that kind of stuff, things you can't control, how do you not let that affect your personal life?

(if that's not an appropriate question I wont be offended that you don't answer)

BostonFire1530 karma

Honestly, the only way to deal with the stuff that you can't control is to remember that you have a job to do. I've seen some pretty horrific things, some of which are still with me. When stuff like that happens the department will hold Critical Incident Stress Debriefings, where everyone who was on the call will have to sit with a counselor, which helps. You also always have your brothers at the fire house to talk to, which also helps.

This is one of those jobs, though, that you carry with you. It doesn't matter how well prepared you are, or how much you steel yourself against it, you're going to have runs that punch you straight in the soul.

Hawiiday24 karma

What's the funniest thing you've come across at a fire?

BostonFire1585 karma

There's always those WTF stories that you hear about, but the best one I ever personally saw was a sex dungeon in a lady's basement.

We were called in on a fire that started in the lint trap in a dryer, went down and had the fire out pretty quickly. While doing overhaul we stumbled upon this ladies sex dungeon, and it was intense. Whips and chains, big wooden table in the middle with 4 point restraints. Lady didn't fuck around.

dmbfan121617 karma

Firefighter as well. I think the public would be surprised how common massive amounts of jackoff magazines and VHS 80's porn is. Overhaul is like Christmas morning for the perverted.

BostonFire1518 karma

That's no shit. I can't tell you how many 911 calls we've responded to where the person got a little too excited in their fapping session and thought they were having a heart attack. Always makes you feel a little weird when there's porn still paused on the TV when you get there.

thatwasnotkawaii21 karma

Do you guys have the firefighter pole?

What do you feel (emotions) during fires?

BostonFire1546 karma

We unfortunately do not have a fire pole. It's a shame, too, I've always wanted to go down one. Unfortunately they are mostly only used in crowded metropolis areas, where fire stations have to be several stories because they don't have room to expand outward.

As far as emotion, it's a pure adrenaline rush. You NEVER know what you're going to walk in on when you enter a burning structure. It's kind of similar to the battle high you hear soldiers describing, although I'm sure it's not to the same extent.

WildRose4Ever17 karma

What kinds of fire-safety precautions do you take in your personal life? Obviously you have working smoke detectors at home (don't you?!?!?!), but do you use candles at all? I knew a firefighter who banned candles from the home, and he wouldn't let his kids into a building/house until he inspected the exits & whatnot.

BostonFire1525 karma

I don't take it that far. My SO isn't into all the candles and stuff so that's not really much of a problem for me. I do have working smoke detectors in the house that get checked monthly, and we have an emergency evacuation plan, including a "bug out bag" with spare clothes and whatnot in case anything were to happen. That's the major thing I think people overlook, when you lose your house you lose all of your possessions too. Not even having a change of clothes or a tooth brush can be pretty brutal.

As far as inspecting exits and whatnot, that's pretty extreme. Like I mentioned earlier in the thread, buildings these days are built and inspected to a strict fire code, and are very safe compared to older homes.

WildRose4Ever9 karma

I've never lost my possessions in a fire, but last year the airline lost my checked bag for a few days, and not having clean underwear or basic toiletries isn't fun!

Follow up question: what other fire safety, or disaster preparedness, tips do you have for us?

Edit: added the word "bag"

BostonFire1522 karma

You know, the biggest issue with fire safety we see now a days (at least when common sense is applied) is when you see people overloading outlets with those multi-outlet plugs. Resisted electricity creates a lot of heat, and that's a huge fire hazard. Another is that you should always (ALWAYS) have a fire extinguisher in both your kitchen and your garage. You can create a minor inconvenience in place of a devastating loss.

coady1417 karma

How hard is it for a female to fit in on the job? The station in my town just hired their first ever full time female firefighter.. I plan to be the second :) Stay safe!

BostonFire1547 karma

Honestly, it's not hard at all. Of course, that's probably dependent on where you live, but our department has many female firefighters/emts, and they aren't treated any different than the guys.

I hope you have brothers though, otherwise I don't know if you're ready for the level of farting, burping, lack of hygiene and perversion you're about to walk in on.

Good luck to you! It's a great career!

penguanne16 karma

Do you look at people's homes when you're on a call notice how messy they are? What do you hate to see in a home?

Thanks, be safe!

BostonFire1525 karma

You absolutely notice how filthy peoples houses are. In fact, there's a pretty direct corelation between people that live that way, and people that abuse the 911 system, so you can bet when you walk into one of those disgusting pits, you're probably going to be back.

H orders are bad, but the worst ones are the ones with bug infestations. So many cockroaches that it looks like the floor is moving. Bedbugs covering every surface of the trailer, etc...

When things are that bad, we're required by law to fill out an adult (or child) welfare form at the hospital for a social worker to follow up with the patient. Nothing ever comes of it though.

penguanne12 karma

Hospice nurse here, I've visited plenty of those buggy homes, and...ewwww. Take nothing in with you! How about general clutter? In other words, should I straighten up the place between calling 911 and opening the door? :)

BostonFire1525 karma

If it's a fire call, no, get the fuck out of there. If it's an ems call we appreciate when we've got a clear path to the patient, our cots are pretty large and cumbersome and it makes it hard to get around in a hoarder house.

danieljay69115 karma

What was your favorite call and what was the hardest call you've responded to?

BostonFire1541 karma

I answered the favorite call question up above. As far as the hardest call I've ever had, it was the shooting of a 10 year old girl.

Long story short, mom's crazy ex-boyfriend shows up drunk with a gun, mom and daughter try to run away. Boyfriend shoots mom in the back of the leg and then throws daughter down beside mom and shoots her twice: once in the stomach, once in the head. He lets mom live so she has to watch her daughter lay there and bleed to death, and then shoots himself in the head.

I've seen a lot of bad shit, but kids are always the worst.

danieljay6916 karma

I imagine you get really hard calls very often. Do you even feel like you don't want to do your job anymore? What makes it all worth it?

BostonFire1515 karma

Everyone in this service has had the call that's made them question whether or not they're cut out for the job, but that's just it, it's all part of the job. You pretty much know what you're getting into when you sign up for it.

The thing that makes it worth it is when you make a difference. Whether its from saving a life, or saving someones home. There's no feeling like knowing you genuinely helped someone.

crumbbelly13 karma

Majority of your calls and to what percentage - Ems calls, or fire?

Are you happy?

If you could go back and do it over again, what would you do differently?

BostonFire1546 karma

I would say 75% EMS to 25% fire. Of those EMS calls, only about 15% are genuine EMS. A lot of people call 911 for a lot of stupid things.

I'm definitely happy. It's a hard job, and it doesn't pay much, but since I could remember I wanted to be a Firefighter, and its just right for me, you know? The only thing I might change is getting my paramedic certification earlier. I'm pushing 30 now with 2 full time jobs, a SO and a brand new baby. Life is pretty hectic trying to go to school full time too.

BLSBobby4 karma

Emt here. Fire doesn't pay much? Around here most start at 50k

BostonFire153 karma

This job doesn't pay much comparatively to other jobs. Dual certified here start around $33k with a max out of around 55-60 after your 20 years. Officers make more of course. Compare that to, well, nursing for example. Where RNs start out around $50k a year right out of school.

Spysnakez3 karma

You talked about EMS calls being genuine or not - can I ask a specific question about that? How do you feel about people calling about strange heart attack -like symptoms and finding out that the patient had a panic attack?

Or did this mean that you really get so many of those real bs calls such as someone needing help with getting a burger from a closed McDonald's? (more like a police thing, but you get the point)

BostonFire152 karma

I'll take someone who thinks they're dying any day over someone who purposefully misuses the 911 system.

We had a lady in our district who was elderly and couldn't get around her house. She would call 911 asking for things like us to come cook her dinner. She realized we never responded to that, so once she called and said she was having a heart attack. When we arrived on scene she told us that she's fine now, but while we're there can we change the channel on her TV? She couldn't figure out how to use her remote.

That's just one example of probably hundreds of absolutely ridiculous calls I've been on.

Beattys110 karma

Do you have a fondest memory from your job?

BostonFire1550 karma

Honestly, one of my fondest memories was when I had to rescue a cat out of a tree.

I was a brand new, green firefighter. Probably was my second call ever, and generally the department I was on wouldn't take the cliche cat stuck in a tree calls, but they made an exception just to give the rookie (me) shit. We set up the extension ladder, and up I went. I got a hold of the cat, and as I started coming down the ladder this cat went ballistic. I had no gloves on, and only my bunker pants. This cat tore me to shreds coming down the ladder.

Actinopterygii9 karma

Hey there! My best friend is a recently certified paramedic, and has been trying her damnedest to become a full time firefighter (been volunteering for years at local fire depts. and doing wild fire work during the summer). Any advice you would have to someone just starting down this path?

Also, have you done many cricothyrotomies? Seems like it would be a rarely used skill, but an important one.

BostonFire158 karma

Well the fire service is kind of becoming a very competitive work force. The best way to break into full time if you don't have many departments around you would be to try to find a part time gig first and then work your way into full time.

As for your other question, I'm only an EMT so I'm not certified to cric someone, as that's a paramedic skill. I've assisted in the procedure once, on a young boy who had a foreign body obstruction in his throat we couldn't clear.

Pugway6 karma

What's average life like on the job? You mention working the back half of a 24 hour shift but also that you had another job, school and a family, so how much of your week is spent at the firehouse and what it that like? I work in a grocery store and the guys from the fire department come in a lot to buy random food items and stuff like that, so I imagine it's not all just sitting around by the phone on Reddit.

BostonFire1514 karma

Well between my 2 jobs I work around 90-100 hours a week. My second job is for a private ambulance service.

As far as life on the job, imagine working from home, where you really didn't have a lot of work to do, and you never knew when work was going to start or what it was going to be when it did.

The crew will come in and do our truck and equipment checks and then we kind of just hang out until 0900 when the captain comes on. Then we start any station duties we have for the day. Then we argue for 2 hours about what we're going to be doing for lunch today, then we actually get lunch. We'll eat lunch and then usually the guys will take naps, or just hang out and watch TV. Captain leaves at 3 pm, and then its just lounging around.

We also have weekly meetings, work details, and trainings.

It's not like a normal job. It's a hard job, and it's a stressful job, but there is a lot of sitting around and busy work. Like I said, it's almost like working from home.

buttonsnbones5 karma

What kind of lunch do you guys like to get?

BostonFire159 karma

Different every day. Sometimes we do fast food, some times we get stuff to cook, sometimes we grill out. Just depends on what every one is feeling that day.

That's why it takes 2 hours to decide.

buttonsnbones4 karma

How do you guys get the fast food?! Is it like when you go to the grocery store and you have to bring the whole truck and be ready to roll at any second? Or do you call a buddy to drop off an order? This is probably a dumb question.

BostonFire153 karma

Same way, we drive the medic/engine to the fast food place and go inside to order.

If we get a call we have to drop everything and leave.

Pugway3 karma

Very interesting. If you don't mind me asking what is your end-goal? Obviously 100 hour work weeks are no fun, so I would imagine that you have at least a desire to maintain some sort of a normal, or possibly more manageable schedule, or maybe we just think differently.

BostonFire1510 karma

Well short term goal is to finish medic classes, and take that nice pay raise. As far as long term goals are concerned I would say that maybe someday I'll take the Medic to RN bridge course and break into nursing.

The 100 hour work weeks are pretty tiring, but I've got one of the only jobs in the world that I get paid to sleep, play video games, and surf reddit.

HarbhajanSingh_6 karma

What's your bucket list?

BostonFire159 karma

The big thing that I really want to do is be in a high speed police chase. I know it sounds dumb, but I've always thought I could get away and I want to try it someday.

mario7456 karma

What are the steps you take when fighting a fire?

BostonFire1512 karma

Well the main thing you want when you're fighting an interior structure fire is situational awareness. It's not like in the movies, when you enter a structure fire you can't see ANYTHING. The smoke is so thick you have to use your ears and your sense of touch to navigate. You never want to get fire behind you, so you have to have good communication and know what's going on at all times.

darkflash265 karma

how many bananas have you eaten within the last week?

BostonFire1516 karma

Two. I grab one on the way out the door some mornings as breakfast.

I feel that there's a reference here that I don't get though.

Roninspoon5 karma

When you respond to an accident and someone is dead or gravely wounded, what's the process for notifying the person's family or contacts? Do you roll through their wallet or purse to find contact cards? Or try to access their phone to find out who to contact? Are apps that keep contact info and contact instructions on the home screen of your phone helpful? Is that something that first responders even do, or is it part of someone else's responsibility?

BostonFire155 karma

Generally speaking, if someone is dead on scene the coroner is contacted. After getting the information if the coroner doesn't have reason to suspect foul play the funeral home is contacted to come retrieve the body. The police are also on scene for Code 99's and they are generally the ones that contact the family.

Marmite-Badger5 karma

They always say that if there's a fire that you should leave any and all pets. What's the weirdest pet you've ever had to rescue?

(Also, how often to pets not make it?)

BostonFire1512 karma

It's much more rare for a pet not to make it, than it is for them to be okay. It's not really like on TV where a fire rips through a house in 2 minutes and destroys the whole thing (although that can happen with balloon construction). Usually we keep fires suppressed to room and contents, and at most a couple of rooms.

I once had to rescue two ball pythons, which I was really excited about because I used to breed snakes.

elltim9214 karma

Had a job in 2011 where the guy had asked us to get his snake after the initial knock. Fire was upstairs, snake down, so we hadn't seen it yet. We go in, and this fucker had to be 8 foot long. Hell no.

The guy was transported, and wife was not fucking with this Jumanji escapee either. We ended up calling a guy I went to high school with to get it out,and he just let the snake stay the night with him, with no fucking tank.

Like they're old buddies after hitting the bar or some shit.

BostonFire157 karma

Haha, I've always had a place in my heart for reptiles; snakes in particular. I used to breed burmese and reticulated pythons before my girlfriend put her foot down. One of my big girls escaped and wrapped around the base of the toilet in the middle of the night, my girlfriend got a nasty surprise the next morning. That's a whole other story though.

Marmite-Badger3 karma

So if an animal isn't particularly near the fire, say, in a locked room? Do you prioritize extinguishing the flames, or saving Fido?

Edit: Also, thank you very much for the answer!

BostonFire1514 karma

Well there are three levels of priority when it comes to dealing with any emergency scene. Crew safety is always number one. You take steps to ensure your crews aren't exposed to any unnecessary danger. Secondly is scene stabilization. You do whatever you have to do to keep the situation from getting worse. Thirdly is property conservation. Since animals are technically property, they come very low on the priorities list. This isn't to say that we don't attempt to rescue them when we can, but we don't put crews in danger to do it, and fire suppression always takes priority.

topoftheworldIAM5 karma

do the firefighters ever bring girls over for quiet get togethers?

BostonFire1516 karma

I'm not at liberty to confirm or deny this....

I'm just kidding, it happens more than you would think. Just don't let chief find out.

wiredturtle995 karma

I'm wanting to become an EMT through my local fire department . I was told I will be contacted when the next training session begins. Any tips?

BostonFire159 karma

Pay attention. Study outside of class. Learn things that you don't HAVE to know. Ask for help if you need it.

BoerboelFace5 karma

What up?

BostonFire1543 karma

Chicken butt?

Happy cake day!

Sunflier5 karma

Ever have to use a crane to get a really fat person out of their house?

BostonFire155 karma

I've never used a crane, but I have had to cut a hole in a garage wall to get the lady out. We had to lease a special bariatric ambulance to transport her. She was well over 1,000 lbs.

That was a private ambulance call though, not ems.

SC2755 karma

Do you learn the science of fires? Anything interesting that most people don't know?

BostonFire1510 karma

The fire academy gets pretty deep into fire behavior. Fire is an interesting beast.

Brake fluid and chlorine can, and will, spontaneously combust. Is that interesting?

lollollol35 karma

What are people's/children's reaction when you tell them you are a firefighter?

BostonFire1516 karma

Firefighting is probably the one job in the country that automatically demands respect. I'll go out to the bar wearing one of my station tshirts and people will be buying me drinks all night, kind of feels like being a minor celebrity.

It's still really weird though when someone comes up to tell me thank you for my service. I never know exactly how to respond to that.

tonster47 karma

I think firefighters and paramedics should get discounts like miltary peeps does over where I work as a cashier.

BostonFire155 karma

Some places give them to us, some don't.

scoopi5 karma

Hi! I'm a dispatcher. What's one thing you wish your dispatchers understood better or did differently?

BostonFire1511 karma

You know, it's easy for us to talk a lot of shit about dispatchers, and a lot of times it seems like they have no idea what they're doing. But the fact is, we don't work in dispatch, and you guys deal with your own brand of ridiculousness.

Just keep doing what you guys are doing. As long as you get us the the right address, we can handle everything else.

wolf18744 karma

Have you ever responded to a fire call, in which it was started from drug manufacturing or the use of drugs? If so, how many have you responded to like that?

(Story Time) My father is also a Fireman, and once he responded to a call in which a crack house was up in flames. He was using mutual aid equipment from another fire dept. and the equipment he was using was not serviced properly (I suppose that is how you would word it.) So he ended up breathing in some toxic fumes and getting badly injured. He's alright now, but now he knows to take ALL his gear everywhere.

BostonFire156 karma

We get called out to all the dismantling of meth operations. Both because they are highly volatile chemicals that could ignite at any time, and because we have hazmat personnel available for the county sheriff. I've been to quite a few.

Kappa_Sigma_18694 karma

ever respond to a call that creeped you the fuck out? Im a fan of that one ask reddit with ems talking about paranormal calls.

BostonFire1513 karma

Remember when bath salts were a big thing in the US? Those were the calls that creeped me the fuck out. Those people we're absolutely insane and you never knew what the fuck you were walking into.

I generally don't buy into the paranormal, but if there's ever been a person in history that played the role of demonically possesed, it's someone on bath salts.

samjam80883 karma

Link? :)

PoppaDR3W4 karma

Ex-volunteer firefighter here. Is there a "rivalry" between paid and volunteer personnel where you work (or places close by that may have it if you dont)?

BostonFire1511 karma

We do have volunteers that respond for our fire side, but there's no real rivalry there. They're all brothers.

Naturally though your department talks shit about all the other departments in the county. Just how it works.

arisufox4 karma

Just wanted to thank you for your service.

What was the reason why you decided to become a fire fighter?

BostonFire154 karma

It's kind of a family thing. My grandfather was a firefighter in the Navy and then did volunteer firefighting in Arizona. My dad was a firefighter in the Navy. My oldest brother was a firefighter in my home town, my brother in law was also a firefighter in my home town. Ever since I could remember it's something I wanted to do, and it's really cool getting to live out your childhood dreams.

ItalianKitten3 karma

First of all, thank you for doing what you do. I consider EMTs, firefighter, nurses, and emergency doctors the unsung heroes of society.

Only recently, and through reddit, I became aware of The Station Nightclub fire of 2003. Watching the video of the event brought tears to my eyes.

Could you please, if you can, give me your personal take on that tragedy? Do you have any comment you wish to share with us?

Many thanks.

BostonFire153 karma

I mentioned this in an earlier reply to this post. That fire was a perfect storm of circumstances that led to a devastatingly large fire loss, when there didn't have to be.

From the idiot preforming pyrotechnics (without a permit) in a tiny encloses area, with highly flammable sound proofing foam less than 10 feet away and completely exposed, to being almost 200 people over occupancy (I believe that building was only rated for like 138 people and there were close to 400 in the night club).

It was devastating, and the worst part is, it didn't need to happen.

ItalianKitten3 karma

I'm terribly sorry for repeating that question, somehow I missed it.

That video really showed how, if something could go wrong, it would go wrong. The speed of it is the most shocking part.

I'm a humble fire marshal and, had I been in the club, I would have stayed behind, directing people out, and died in the fire myself.

I was once in a building on fire in Tokyo, it was quite a sobering experience. That's probably why I became peripherally involved with fire safety.

BostonFire153 karma

I've seen some truly horrifying examples of fire safety in my career. Probably the worst was at a mom and pop mechanics shop. In the corner they stored several different flamable liquids including used oil, starter fluid, and the oil rag bin. On the wall was the breaker panel, which would shoot sparks every time the mechanics air compressor kicked on.

His response when I brought it to his attention: "Oh, yeah. It does that every now and then."

feardabear3 karma

Are you as bored as me?

BostonFire157 karma

It's been a pretty slow night, so I'd wager so.

ENRN3 karma

Are you with Boston fire? Cause I thought Boston EMS did all the EMS calls? How does it work?

BostonFire156 karma

When I made my user name I was with Boston, Indiana. Not Massachusetts. People get that confused a lot.

All departments are different, though. Some departments you have to be dual certified, some hire firefighters/emts separately. Some departments manage EMS, but it's provided by civilians who are civil servants. It just depends on where you go.

eq2b2 karma

know? The only thing I might change is getting my paramedic certification earlier. I'm pushing 30 now with 2 full time jobs, a SO

Are you still a Firefighter in Indiana? If so, I am as well.

BostonFire151 karma

I still carry an Indiana certification, but I don't run in Indiana any more.

tzuridis3 karma

Have you ever experienced a fire like the Station night club fire? What I mean by that is have you arrived at a scene and heard people screaming for help and literally seconds later the yelling stops and the building becomes full of smoke or engulfed in flames? If so what was your reaction?

(anyone who hasnt seen the video do not watch the video)

BostonFire1512 karma

That fire was an insane perfect storm of situations that led to a massive loss fire, when there didn't need to be one.

The only situation I've ever had like that was a couple years ago. We were called as mutual aid for another department that was battling an apartment building fire. The fire had started in the basement and they were having a lot of trouble keeping it under control. By the time we got there it had moved into the first floor. You could see people in the windows of the second story apartments (it was a 4 unit building: 2 downstairs, 2 up) that were trying to get the safety bars off so that they could open the window. Then, what was presumed to be, a flashover (a flashover is when the temperature in a confined space reaches the level that everything in the room immediately ignites.) occurred on the first floor, burning through the second floors floor insanely fast and we literally watched those people drop through and into the fire.

tzuridis4 karma


BostonFire1512 karma

Yeah, it's pretty tough. The very first chief I ever worked under though gave me some great advice waaaaaay back when I was 16 and an explorer on my local volunteer department.

He told me that you'll never be able to win them all, and if you could, it would make the victories mean less. He told me that you can't kill yourself questioning what you could have done differently, because sometimes there's just nothing you can do.

hyena_laugh3 karma

hey i'm working my way to getting into forest firefighting. any tips for my journey?

BostonFire157 karma

Well I don't know a lot about wild land firefighting other than dealing with the field and grass fires that we get every summer, but my big tip for new firefighters is just to keep your mouth shut.

You're going to get hazed and picked on, it's all part of the job. You're going to do the bitch work for awhile, but the guys that come in with a know it all attitude always get it way, way worse. So just keep your head down and your mouth shut, take it all on the chin and you'll be out of your probationary year before you know it.

jamejamesonjohnston3 karma

With what you know now/experienced would you do it again? Would you still become a firefighter?

BostonFire156 karma

Absolutely. It genuinely is what I was meant to do with my life.

Shaeos3 karma

... how big should my fire breaks be? Next time it's not burning my shit down.

BostonFire156 karma

We talking structure or wildland? When cutting a firebreak away from a structure or open land burn I believe NFPA standards state it should be no less than 30 feet.

ohmanthisname3 karma

We always joke that american firefighters work with two thermometers: If the water that is going into the house has the same temperature as the one that is going out you stop. Is that true?

BostonFire152 karma

Haha, I can't speak for all departments, but no, that's not how we do it. You knock down your main body of fire, then you do overhaul: pulling ceilings/walls looking for hot spots or smoldering insulation/studs.

lislar3 karma

What do you feel when you see a person you couldn't save, die in front of your eye?

BostonFire151 karma

The first few are really hard, but it's something that gets much, much easier the longer you're in the job.

_MrGuy3 karma

Hey man, I'm starting off my EMT certification course this september. I have an anxiety problem, and I act weird around people because of it. My problem isn't at the point where I have panic attacks anymore, I have actually improved this past year. It's just when I'm around people is when my anxiety spike a little. Aside from that, I am more than capable of learning the material for this course and following orders. Will my issue affect me in this field of work?

BostonFire153 karma

Honestly, probably. 99% of this job is dealing with people, at what's more is most of those people are weird to begin with. I think the biggest problem you would probably have would be when you test for your skills. You basically have to be in a room with between 3-5 instructors who will give you a scenario and you have to pretend what you would do in that situation.

djmixman3 karma

I was a volunteer for several years and occasionally had to work with paid departments. I've always wondered what paid members think of volunteers. So my question is:

Do you ever mutual aid with any volunteer departments and what is your take on them?

I've seen two types of volunteer departments. I was a volunteer at a more "professional" department. We followed strict training guidelines and polices. Whereas, some of the other neighboring departments were more of the "Good ol' boys" style.

BostonFire154 karma

I've also worked for both types of the volunteer departments, and both have their merits.

For the most part, we don't treat the volly boys any different than any other firefighter. The ketchup dicks get a little old, and we don't have a lot of tolerance for that.

Actually the the firefighters we can't stand are the guys that work for cities with a population of like 10,000 but have a god complex about it. You're not FDNY just because you're getting paid for it.

DatArabGuy3 karma

I'm going into LE, what is something I should keep in mind when dealing with you guys? What should I do and not do? Thanks.

BostonFire153 karma

We'll give each other shit, but you guys are like step brothers. We take care of each other.

nimrodrool3 karma

You said girls fit in well, i know part of the job is carrying people outside of a burning building sometimes, how does a woman deal with that?

Also, ever had to lift someone who was HUGE?

BostonFire159 karma

We deal with large patients quite a bit, it goes along with healthcare in the US.

You'd be surprised how much a tiny little girl can do using the proper techniques. In my fire academy I was the largest guy. 6'6" pushing 300 lbs. When we were doing single person ladder rescues they had the smallest girl in the class, about 5'5" maybe 120 lbs carry me down the ladder.

It has much less to do with actual strength than it does the technique you use to lift/carry.

fratstache3 karma

on a slow day

You know you can't say that. Did you end up running all night?

BostonFire158 karma

We had 3 in about 5 hours. So, yeah, I kind of fucked up.

lewko2 karma

Which film and TV shows e.g Chicago Fire are technically accurate, and which ones drive you nuts for being completely implausible?

BostonFire152 karma

The worst one for me Backdraft, the early 90s music. It was pretty bad. Rescue me was good for like the first 2 seasons, but then it got pretty terrible too.

I've actually not watched Chicago fire because of the bad taste that Rescue Me left in my mouth, but Ladder 49 was pretty decent.

Stealth07102 karma

Have you had to deal with any hoarders? My Dad's a firefighter in Canada for 25 years now and he recently had a bad one and it was unreal how he described it. The person had a huge 3 story house in the city with the basement full to the top of the stairs and just mountains of random shit stacked 5-6' high.

BostonFire152 karma

I mentioned earlier in the thread that hoarders were a pretty common occurrence in our field. Someone else mentioned that clean houses never burn, and there's a lot of truth in that.

SnarkyGrumkin1 karma

Are calls an everyday thing or are there days where nothing happens?

BostonFire156 karma

We're a smaller department, but our average is around 3 calls a day. We do have days were we don't turn a wheel, but you can pretty much guarantee that it'll be followed up by a day where you take 9 runs.

Ours is a fickle business.

jhuacuja1 karma

What was the most tense/dangerous situation you've been in?

BostonFire152 karma

Well, to me, the most tense situations are when you're working a full code more than fighting fires.

Firefighting today isn't like it was back in the 60's or 70's. We have better training, better equipment, and it's altogether a safer job. We do put ourselves in dangerous situations, but we have a better understanding of fire behavior, and the tools to combat it.

When you're working a code, though, it's an incredibly stressful experience. It's physically and mentally exhausting, and often times it's an utter failure which is pretty tough.

T0tit03 karma

What does "working a code" means? Sorry if it seems like a silly question.

BostonFire154 karma

When someone "codes" it means that they have gone into full cardiac or respiratory arrest. When you're working a code it means you're implementing rapid life saving procedures in an attempt to resuscitate

T0tit02 karma

Oh damn. Thanks for answering. It sure sounds like a mentally exhausting job. :(

BostonFire152 karma

It can be, it's really rewarding too though.