Why We’re All So Addicted To The Lifestyle

Exciting Vs BoringThere’s one of two things that will happen to you when you join a fire department and start responding to calls.

  1. You’re terrified. You think every little thing is going to kill you and you can’t handle it. We will bid you farewell and wish you the best. This lifestyle isn’t for you.
  2. You’re thrilled. You’re the person that sticks around, learns everything they can because this lifestyle is exciting and gets your adrenaline pumping. Welcome, you’re part of the brotherhood now.

Growing up I was never an adrenaline junkie. In fact, most of the risk I took was calculated risk, or at least as calculated as you can get for a kid. Usually if someone wanted me to do something I thought was stupid, I would tell them to do it first and then I would. Immediately after they got hurt, I had a good excuse not to do it myself.

So it was weird to be so captivated and motivated to respond to calls when I joined the fire service at 16. Or perhaps, all those years of seeing my friends get injured while I looked on at their stupidity was the perfect precursor to firefighting.

Either way, it takes an incredibly special person to be able to be able to see so much destruction and chaos so frequently.

I’m convinced that most of the people that get into this lifestyle thrive off of chaos to some extent. You have to. If you’re the type of person that’s going to cry every time you respond to pick up an old lady off the floor, then you’ll never handle the chaos of a fatal car accident or structure fire.

Seriously. Take a look at the most active members of your department. They can’t get enough of the chaos and destruction. When was the last time you heard someone say “damn, I wish we would get another BLS fall victim.”

I bet it’s been ages, if ever. But I can almost guarantee you’ve heard “We need a fire, or a good wreck” in the past week. That’s because it’s exciting, it gets our adrenaline pumping and more importantly, it engages our minds in ways that a basic medical call just can’t do.

 

The Power Behind You

 

Whether you know it or not, that space between your ears contains a very powerful brain (some more powerful than others), and that brain wants to work. It yearns to be pushed to new limits and to take in new knowledge. This basic function is what also makes monotonous tasks like stuffing envelopes so damn boring, because it doesn’t challenge you at all.

“Most of us love the pounding heartbeat, rapid breathing, nervous perspiration, and the butterflies in the stomach that come from participating in a hazardous experience. It’s that element of fear, that stands between a thrill and just plain fun.”Psychology Today

The excitement we all get from responding to calls is what makes it worth putting in the time and energy to be an active volunteer. Just like a racecar driver. The race is just a tiny piece of the puzzle, behind the scenes days and weeks before a race, there’s a team of people hard at work. They’re training, rehearsing, practicing and learning everything they possibly can to gain an advantage. We’re no different, only the advantage we’re looking to achieve is over the fast moving fire or death knocking on someone’s door.

We recently caught fires two days in a row in town. One was a mobile home fire, the other most likely an arson job at an abandoned building. It’s the most alive I’ve felt in a long time responding to those calls, sirens blaring, heavy fire showing on arrival.

In a weird way, it’s a chance to forget about what’s going on in the rest of my life. I don’t have to worry about work, hobbies, paying bills, etc. Just a quick thought about my kids before I step off the truck, keep myself grounded in reality that I absolutely must make it home after the job is done because my boys are relying on me. Then it’s time to get to work.

Accept it or not, you love the adrenaline and the excitement you get from responding to calls. Helping our community and giving back is really just the side benefit we all get from getting our adrenaline fix.

 

If you haven’t signed up for our updates yet, you really should. It’s not quite as exciting as a structure fire response, but you’ll get more awesome updates like this one. Sign up here.

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Chris Lockwood

Chris is the own of The Bravest Volunteers. He's worked as a 911 dispatcher since 2004 and been a volunteer fire fighter since 2002. During that time he served as Captain before moving to a new town.

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Chris Lockwood

Chris is the own of The Bravest Volunteers. He's worked as a 911 dispatcher since 2004 and been a volunteer fire fighter since 2002. During that time he served as Captain before moving to a new town.