Each of us will eventually come to a time where we discontinue active firefighting and/or EMS. Whether we retire, are put on disability, move on to something else, stop volunteering, or move to a support role, we will not be active in our profession forever.
Most of what I see in my department is retirement. It seem as though the decision to retire is a very emotional one. Most may talk like they can’t wait to leave, but the fact remains that they don’t want to find out the department can operate without them. It makes sense after giving the department 25-30 years of dedication.
And then there are some who leave on disability. Many who have left due to injury in my department don’t get disability. We had a guy recently who was moved to dispatch. That is a whole other story, and a very depressing one at that. Our jobs are dangerous, risk is imminent, and injuries are common. Having to leave our profession due to injury has to be depressing.
Just because these guys are not in the company anymore you don’t have to forget them. I can only imagine not being able to do what I love. Your life goes on as it was…to and from work, enjoying the camaraderie, running calls, and solving the World’s problems at the kitchen table.
I know of at least 3 of my “blog” friends who have begun blogging due to injury. One is back on the job, one is still fighting for disability, and another had to take early retirement due to injury. Blogging is apparently therapeutic. I commend them for maintaining active blogs and keeping themselves involved in the firefighting community.
As a firefighter who maintains a keen understanding of the Brotherhood (all the ups and downs too), I realize the need to not forget these guys who aren’t hopping on the truck anymore when the tones go off.
I hate hearing about how the phone calls start tapering off and communication ceases. There is no need to forget them…give them a call. Invite them for a meal.
And for the guys who are sidelined, be sure to stop by for a meal from time to time. That is a great way to maintain a friendship with your peers. As time goes on, newer guys join or are hired. If you want to stay in the know and meet the new guys just stop in from time to time and enjoy the company.
Then you can tell them about “Back in the Day”!!!