The house fire is dispatched just after dinner, your company is first due truck — reported child trapped on the second floor. The first-in engine reports fire showing on arrival, advancing a line. Your crew follows right in, up the stairs. Within seconds, a victim is found. With the fire advancing down the hallway towards them, two firefighters push their way down the stairs with the victim in tow through the rest of the crews coming in.
Outside, the masks come off and CPR is started immediately on the victim until EMS crews arrive seconds later. Despite the best efforts of everyone, he doesn’t make it. The fireground is devastated. The victim’s family, holding out hope that their loved one made it, is in shock.
A huge turnout for the funeral from the community shows the love for the victim. The two firefighters who made the initial grab don’t make it to the services — one is still hospitalized with burns to his face when his mask came off during the frenzied attempt to get out of the house. The other just can’t bring himself. He’s not sure he ever will be able to go into a fire again.
You are able to make it to the funeral. After all, its yours. You are dead.
Two weeks earlier, for the third time in the last three years, your doctor warned you that you were overweight, had high blood pressure and a mild arrhythmia. You’ve been on meds for years, but this time he was stern — take a break from physical activities, revamp your diet and exercise in moderation.
Your kids are 9 and 13 – you can’t wait to see them graduate high school, then college, and have kids of their own. You love your wife more than anything. You’ve had your ups and downs but you can’t imagine life without her — nor she without you.
But, you love firefighting. It’s been in your blood forever. You tell the doctor all the right things, but never mention a peep to your officer and Chief. You’ve got it under control, nothing is going to happen to you. You only live once right?
Unfortunately, you are right. You did only live once. You missed out on some great things in the future. Your family will move on, but never be the same. That crew that pulled you out? Never the same. Everyone on the fireground that day and your entire station? Never the same.
But, what you do you know. You’re dead, right?
Oh — someone else is dead too. The kid you were all going in to save. She really was trapped — just down the hall from where you collapsed 30 seconds into the house. The second search crew was another two minutes out. Two minutes that child didn’t have to spare. While your crew tried in vain to save you, well .. what do you care, you’re dead. Surely beats not being a firefighter right?
Don’t think this could really happen? Check out the results of our Firefighter Health Survey