Walking out of the Fire Chief’s office, leaving a job I had loved for so long, asickening feeling rested heavily in my stomach. This job had defined me for eight years. I gave myself to this job as I had with nothing else in my life, and it had taken from me more than even more than I was willing to give.
Left in a state where sitting for more than 20 minutes meant shooting pain that would likely last the rest of the day, this job never conceded. I gave up positions on grueling technical rescue teams, moved to the slowest station in the county, and taken nearly every day of leave allowed, trying to recover. However, when I was on the job, I didn’t back down to its challenges, and firefighting never failed to lob one after the other, day after day.
I had first injured my back a week before Amber (my wife) and I had our first date. On a fairly routine call, I felt a pop in my back. The next day it seemed strained, but mostly ok. Over the next year, however, that small pain became more and more debilitating, until back surgery seemed to be the only option.
After surgery I took a desk job for three months, worked at training for another month, and finally made my way back to the field. Unable to accomplish some of the tasks from my previous role, I was forced to give up my role on the Technical Rescue Squad. I rode the back of the Engine again for a year, before it was again decided that a shift to the slowest station would give me the best chance to fully recover.
That slow station picked up considerably while I was there, and the idea of rest and recovery seemed to be diminishing. One early morning call I heard another pop; this time in my hip. Within two months I would leave the fire service for good, and be trying desperately to find something else to occupy my time and make some money.