What it's Like to be a Fireman's Daughter

Whenever I tell someone that my dad is a fireman, they always say, “Wow that’s so cool!”

And believe me, it is. My dad is a bad*ss. For the last eighteen years, my dad has run into burning buildings, he has saved lives, both human and cat. He is the strongest, most kind hearted man I have ever met and yes I am a little biased. 

Yet as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the true magnitude of the job the my dad does. I remember when he first started working for the department and he had the graveyard ambulance shift. He would come home in the morning absolutely exhausted, both mentally and physically. I remember seeing my dad all dressed up in his blues, off to the funeral of a fellow firefighter. I remember feeling nervous when he didn't call at the time he always did, praying that when I woke up he would be there. Over the last two decades, he has seen all manner of things from the miracle of childbirth to the tragedy of an overdose. He’s seen households full of three generations of loud Latina women in the midst of welcoming a new generation, old men who live alone, young people caught up in gang violence, moments of sadness and happiness, the mundane and the bizarre. I have seen the toll it all takes on him, but that's just the extreme side of being a firefighter.

Running into burning buildings means relying on the other guys on your truck or engine, which takes a whole lot of trust. This creates a brotherhood which goes deeper than blood. For most of his career, my dad was stationed at Engine 25 which only has a truck, meaning there only has to be four guys on duty at a time. They can work anywhere from 24 to 72 hours depending on the shift so they spend quite a lot of time together. They cook and clean together, they are woken up by the bell at all hours, and they work as one unit when it comes to emergencies. As a kid, I used to love having lunch at the station. Not only is it so cool to be surrounded by big fire trucks but watching my dad laugh at the inside jokes he shared with his brothers was the best. The whole San Francisco fire department is one big family. When someone is sick or dies or has a baby, there is an army of firefighters and their spouses itching to pitch in. That is what makes the fire department so special. That’s what makes running into burning buildings worth it. Oh, and saving lives too. 

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