Choosing Vacation Days for Fire Families

by | Everyday, Fire Family Life, Holidays

One Day Off = Five Days Off – How lucky are we?

One vacation day in the life of a firefighter can mean a lot of days off. For a firefighter who works 24 on, 48 off, one vacation day actually gives them 5 days away from the station! No Monday – Friday employee I know can get 5 days off by only using one vacation day. We are so lucky in the fire life to be able to take advantage of the extra time our firefighters have with their families when they have vacation days.

The Trials and Tribulations of Vacation Picking Season at the Fire Department

If your station does vacation picking, you know what a big deal it is. At my firefighter’s station, they call it leave bidding. They have to submit a written request for which days they want off. The days requested off are granted by seniority. This means that he doesn’t always, or even most of the time, get the dates he would like for vacation days…at least not for another 20 years! In 20 years, I hope we still want to take those long backpacking trips, long road adventures, and have our dreams of traveling the world because we just may have the time to do it then. This vacation picking season can go in multiple directions depending on the “brotherhood” of the crew.  In some places it’s every man for himself and those with low seniority find themselves with 2 weeks off in early November while their family is heads down in work and school. I’ve also seen some very helpful and brotherly ways to pick vacation.   For example, multiples rounds of picks.  So everyone can get their most important days on the calendar before the 2 senior guys block all of summer and all of December with their stockpile of vacation days. The process differs from station to station, but it all ends the same way…vacation days on the books. Here are some of thoughts from the Fire Wife Sisterhood on vacation picking.

vacation days marking the calendar

1. Getting Time Off On Holidays

It is a normal part of the fire life to reschedule holidays and skip vacations simply because your firefighter has to be at the station working. We celebrate the holidays we know our firefighter will be home with us, because we know what a big deal it is. We all are familiar with the uncertainty of whether or not our firefighter will be home for any holiday in the coming year. The excitement of this firefighter wife having holiday time with her firefighter may resonate with you (not to mention the humor we all develop about missing the next one):

“We got so lucky this year and he had all Christmas Vacation with the kids. Most likely not gonna happen again in 2016…lol”

We catch ourselves marking time by counting the years since our firefighter was home for a particular holiday. It can be years between being able to celebrate Christmas on the actual day all together. I know how frustrating it can be. Seriously? Another year without him home on Christmas? You have to be kidding! Happiness fills this fire family who finally broke the cycle of working on Christmas:

“This was the first Christmas in about 4 years!”

This is due largely in part to the senior firefighters getting first pick and choosing to be off for specific holidays – Memorial Day and Labor Day Weekends for example.  Great times to travel for weekend getaways.


2.  Having Your Firefighter Home For A Long Stretch

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On a mission to be and inspire us all to be better humans, to strengthen fire families & marriages, to nurture and encourage fire wives, do "good business" in all areas of my life and of course, love on my 4 kids.

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