My FF’s name is Dave and he has worked for Gwinnett County, GA fire dept for 17 years (full time, paid). He has been with Gwinnett County for 24 years including the years at the Sheriff’s Dept. He is a firefighter engineer AND (just graduated) from paramedic school in April!! We have been married for 22 years and have 3 children: Jacob, 19; Jared, 16; Jenna, 11. I have been the Preschool Director for First Baptist Loganville for 17 years. I am also a certified facilitator for The ScreamFree Institute and have helped lead the FF Wives through the 2 book, ScreamFree Parenting and ScreamFree Marriage.
How did you two meet?
We were in the singles department together at church, went on a “friend” date to Six Flags and the rest is history…
Was he a fireman when you met or did that come after?
He was not a FF when we met. He had just applied at the Gwinnett County Sheriff Dept and was hired right before we got married then transferred to the fire dept.
Do you remember your initial thoughts about him being in the fire service?
I don’t remember my initial thoughts. I do know I had no idea what the FF Wife life would be like!
Have those thoughts changed? If so, how?
My thoughts have changed drastically over the years. I realize that I didn’t know what this life was going to be like and that’s probably a good thing. I appreciate him more than ever and have had to mature and grow up in a lot of ways.
Has he ever had any close calls?
His most dangerous situation had nothing to do with the actual call. He was on a wreck at night and a drunk driver came over a hill and hit the police car.
What is your favorite way to pass time on shift days/nights?
On shift nights I like to catch up with the sisterhood and watch a favorite show if it’s on that night. Because my children are older sometimes I run errands on shift nights or schedule a girls night out.
What is the #1 quality you think a woman has to have to be a firefighter’s wife?
The #1 quality you need is perspective. I believe that does come with experience. You also need flexibility!
Perks of being a firefighter wife?
The perks are having time off when other people do not. We love having date days, my FF can have lunch with the kids at school. Also, you are part of a very important extended family of brothers.
How do you think you would feel if any of your children followed in his footsteps?
I would LOVE it! It’s a rewarding career with great benefits and that is very rare these days.
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 tell him he is not to leave the house without saying goodbye. He gives me a big hug and kiss and I usually say: “Come back to me.” Always say “I love you” when we hang up.
What is the best advice you could offer anyone in a relationship with a fireman?
Well, the best advice I can give you is to be his best cheerleader. You are making his job easier by keeping a good perspective. I do believe in staying calm (trust me, I don’t have this mastered). Our FF’s need us to keep things going at home and to be able to handle things without always calling them at work. One time my FF said to me: :”What do you want me to do about it (whatever the problem was) from here (station).” That was a huge wake up call for me. I didn’t even realize I was lessening my authority with my children by always calling Dad. Another big piece of advice is to seek out a support system and reach out to them.
What does the Sisterhood provide for you and would you recommend it to all fire wives?
Where do I begin? I just discovered the sisterhood last May and my life has been drastically changed. I don’t feel alone anymore and I am able to support my FF even more. I would recommend it to EVERY FF Wife/fiancee/girlfriend. Honestly, I have developed wonderful friendships that I know are a gift from God.
If there was one thing you could change about your firefighter’s department, what would you do?
I want to encourage them to use social media. It’s a great way to encourage the fire wives and FF’s and keep updated on what’s going on.
We know what your firefighter’s passion is, but what sets YOUR heart on fire?
My heart is on fire for encouraging moms, families in general and especially fire wives. I love spreading the ScreamFree message also and how the power of calm has changed my life in every way.
Many of the wives are either also involved with the department or want to be, how about you?
I would like to be more involved with the department. I will be looking into that this summer!
Why do you think the divorce rate is so high in the fire service?
I believe it’s so high for several reasons: PTSD, and couples are not having time to work on their marriage. Date nights and time together are desperately needed. Also, seeking help when it’s needed.
Shift night food in my house is usually……..
Cheese ravioli with spaghetti sauce or pizza
How often do you visit the firehouse?
Not often because it’s an hour away and every time we go he gets a call!
How man people work for your firefighter’s department?
approx. 800 firefighters
Thank you for joining us as we share each month new members of the Fire Wife Sisterhood. Did any of that sound familiar? Was some of it the complete opposite of the way your fire life flows? It is interesting how different yet alike a lot of us (our FFs and Deptartments too) are. Join us on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month to meet a new fire wife and get a peek into her life.