My name is Susan and I am married to Don who is a Captain at the Lafayette Fire Department. Don is also the Unit Director of the Rescue Squad. We have been married for almost 10 years (this June) and have two kids. Kaitlyn is 13 (from my first marriage) and Will is 8. I am a middle school counselor and have been for 15 years now.
How did you two meet?
Don is the oldest brother of my best friend from school. I practically grew up in his house with his sister. We dated briefly when I was in high school, but I moved away for college. I came back to town one summer and found out that his dad had passed away and went to the funeral home. We have been together ever since
Was he a fireman when you met or did that come after?
He joined the fire department as a volunteer in 1989.
Do you remember your initial thoughts about him being in the fire service?
To me it was just part of him. It was something that made him complete.
What helps you keep worrying at bay? What do you do when you are worrying?
Knowing he has all this training along with his department, I can keep from worrying a lot. I do still worry, but I have faith in him and the Lord.
What is your favorite way to pass time on shift days/nights?
Don works for a combination department and works day shift for the department as the secretary but is on call 24/7. I spend a lot of time with the kids and when I can read a good book. I also love to watch movies either by myself or with the kids.
Several of our wives in the Sisterhood love being able to hog the bed at least every third day. Do you enjoy being able to have the bed to yourself?
I never get the bed to myself when he is gone. The kids take over the bed every time Don leaves for the night.
What is the #1 quality you think a woman has to have (or grow to have) to be a firefighter’s wife?
To be able to roll with the flow. With our schedule, we never know if we will be stranded at the store or a family gathering. I have learned that I need my phone every where I go and at times my own vehicle.
Does the fire schedule ever throw off family routine or have you adapted?
All the time! I am lucky to have both mine and his family nearby and can rely on them to help get the kids where ever they need to be. My parents step in a lot to transport our kids when they are needed.
Perks of being a firefighter wife?
Knowing I have all these guys around who are willing to help! Don’s best friends are on the department also so I can call on them anytime for help.
How do you think you would feel if any of your children followed in his footsteps?
I can already tell that possibly both of our kids will follow him and while I will worry as any mother, I will be so proud for them to become fire fighters.
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?
Every time we leave, we always tell the other one to be careful and give a kiss. When we end a phone call, we always tell each other we love them.
What is the best advice you could offer anyone in a relationship with a fireman?
My best advice would be to listen to him, what he is saying and what he isn’t saying.
What does the Sisterhood provide for you and would you recommend it?
The Sisterhood has provided me a better understanding of him and his moods. It has educated me on not just being a better wife, but a better fire wife. And it has provided me with a group who understands me. I have a great group of friends who are there for me. I highly recommend the Sisterhood to all firewives!
We know what your firefighter’s passion is, but what sets YOUR heart on fire?
My family is my passion! I love to spend time with my family. My kids keep me busy and I love it. I also have a group of kids from our church that I spend time with. I take them to singings associated with the gospel singing school that our kids attend.
Tough and often touchy topic… Have you had “the talk” with your fireman about Line of Duty Deaths?
It’s almost like a sore tooth, one you know we need to touch, but the pain of it is so bad, that I can’t. I have mentioned it briefly but haven’t really discussed it.
We all know this lifestyle is hard. What is your least favorite part of the fire life?
Don being gone a lot. Between the fire meetings, trainings, rescue squad meetings, and on and on, he is gone a lot, or busy at home working on something for the squad or department.
Does your firefighter like the fire/ems shows that come on TV or does he rip them apart?
He refuses to watch them now. I think he may have watched a few but after critiquing it so much, he stopped watching them.
Shift night food in my house is usually……..
Fend for yourself- The kids usually tell me what they want and I will fix it, but usually it is pizza or cereal.
How often do you visit the firehouse?
We visit it often. The kids love to visit and play with “Chief” the Fire Chief’s dog.
Does your firefighter’s department do anything fun? Any annual gatherings?
We have an annual Christmas party where the year’s awards are handed out and Santa comes to see the kids. In the past, we have done a cookout and pool party in the summer, but for the past few years, there hasn’t been enough to be able to have it.
How man people work for your firefighter’s department?
There are 36 total – full time, part time and volunteer.