Jill is a Fire Wife Sisterhood member. She is married to Tua Tho and luckily she added in pronunciation with my interview because I would have never guessed it to be TWO TOE..(here I have been for the last year thinking TWO-UH THOUGH in my head!). Tua is a full-time Captain/Medic for Unified Fire Authority, he has been with them for ten years. They live just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. Married for 13 years THIS MONTH, they have a daughter, Tayler, and a son, Ashton. Jill worked for the hospital but the time away wasn’t worth it so she decided to be a stay at home mother to be able to be with her children. To learn more about Jill and her fire wife life, read on!
How did you two meet?
We met while working at Discover Card, we shared a desk. I worked the morning shift and he was the night supervisor. He came in early for a meeting and we met, and then he kept coming in early to see me. He had a rule to not date girls he worked with so I did everything in my power to get him to break that rule and obviously I won! The best part is we both remember our first thoughts about each other before we even met, Mine was how the heck do you say that name (looking at his name tag) and is it a guy or girl. His was who the heck put up all these pictures.
Was he a fireman when you met or did that come after?
After-Tua became a Firefighter after we were married. We had always worked together our entire relationship so it was a huge change to not only have him not be just over the cubical from me but to be gone for days at a time. I had hubby withdrawals for sure.
Do you remember your initial thoughts about him being in the fire service?
I was very proud of him and excited for him. He was so happy and passionate about it how could I not be.
Has he ever had any close calls?
He has gone down in a few fires but only one real close call. He was on a wild fire up one of the canyons and he and his captain were alone protecting some houses when the wind changed and they had to dive over fences to get away from the flames luckily it was just burns to the ears, but the quick I love you phone call said how bad the conditions really were. I was proud of myself for staying calm and picked right back up with the kids I showed myself how strong I can be. It was a very long wait to get the next phone call.
What is your favorite way to pass time on shift days/nights?
My favorite way to pass time on shift days is anything active with the kids. Summertime is way more active, we go to the Zoo, children’s museum, splash pad parks. I love building obstacle courses in the backyard for them, and water fights are a must. When Tua is stationed close we visit, a few summer ago he was close enough to ride bikes to that was fun.
What is the #1 quality you think a woman has to have (or grow to have) to be a firefighter’s wife?
Wow, #1 that’s hard. Strength and being flexible. These would both fit well with fulltime and volunteer firefighter. You have to have strength to be mom and dad when dad is gone and not break under the pressure, for the most part days go by well and no major things happening, but when they do go haywire you got to keep it together which is not easy. Flexibility is just a given you never know when they are going to call or text or during busy season when they will get to come home a 48 can turn to a 96 in a blink of and eye, so that anniversary dinner date may be a few weeks late but know its still done with the same love.
Perks of being a firefighter wife?
My all time favorite perk is being able to do our weekly family hike in the middle of the week when we pretty much get the trails to ourselves. having a campground all to ourselves by camping Tuesday thru Friday instead of the weekend with everyone else.
How do you think you would feel if any of your children followed in his footsteps?
I would be proud of them, but as for now I have a Paleontologist and a Police Officer. To be honest the Police officer makes me more nervous.
Do you have any rituals about saying goodbye when he leaves for shift or if when you end a phone call when he is on shift?
I wish I was all fancy and cute and got up and made his breakfast and coffee but in all honesty I am not a morning person so it is a very sleepy hug and a big kiss. I always get this cute smile from him that I love, he just thinks its cute how tired I am. Our phone calls always end with I love you, be safe, and talk to you later.
What does the Sisterhood provide for you and would you recommend it to all fire wives?
Friends for life, a person to vent to that just gets it, encouragement to be the best me for me and my FF. Knowing that I have so many women rooting for me is awesome.
Has there ever been a time in your relationship that you thought the fire service would ruin your relationship? What helped move pass that?
Yes, I thought it was the fire departments fault and said he needed to do something and make a change. He was at a super busy station (like only sleeping 1-3 hours in a 48 hour shift) I felt like he took it out on us. so he took a position in days, so he worked 7am-6pm Mon-Fri. Well I hated that shift for a year then just got ok with it and he was promoted and went back into the field. The biggest thing was this showed us it wasn’t the shift or the department, it was how we handled things. We just had to be way more open and communicate it a calmer manner.
There is a large working fire in your firefighter’s jurisdiction and you hear about it on the news, social media or the scanner, what runs through your mind?
Honestly my first thought is I hope people don’t start calling me asking if he is on the fire and what do I know about it. I trust his training and his judgment so I am usually pretty calm and just go about my day. There is that little hope that the news will get a shot of him and I just get to swoon over my Hero.
Tell me of a time early on when you either hated the Fire Department or struggled. How do you handle this now and do you have any advice for those who may be going through this now?
This is one I laugh at now and so does hubby thankfully. So I was very pregnant and very sick, like liver failure, feeding tube, picc line, in and out of the hospital sick. Well the phone rings and I answer it and the BC is calling him in for overtime well I told him I hated him and the department and said Tua would call him back and hung up. Tua was embarrassed to call back and the BC was caught so off guard the guys asked what was wrong so the whole station found out that I told him I hated him. It was talked about for a long time.
We all know this lifestyle is hard. What is your least favorite part of the fire life?
The OT call when you were not expecting it.
Did your firefighter have to go through an academy? What did you fill your time with?
Yes he did, I was working so that took up a lot of time and I went out with friends.
Shift night food in my house is usually……..
some sort of rice dish, my kids love rice and Tacos, they love tacos but not daddy’s favorite.
How often do you visit the firehouse?
It really depends on the station he is at, right now he is roving so we don’t visit often. When he was at a permanent station we went about every other go around. He was stationed right by the house for awhile and we rode our bikes down to visit almost every go around.
What is the best advice you could offer anyone in a relationship with a fireman?
To be his soft place to land after a hard shift. Let him talk/vent on his own time, constant pushing and nagging for information is not what they need or want when they come home.
Thank you, Jill, for being the Firefighterwife.com Fire Wife Hot Spot!