Community Forum

Forum Home  /  Spouse/Support/Family  /  Backing your Husband

Backing your Husband

My husband has been trying for sometime to became a firefighter. A career as a firefighter is his ultimate goal. He has worked very hard to get the badge but has run into every obstacle possible. I sit here and watch him disappointed letter after letter and have run out of words to help him get through it. I have been here to support him since day one and will continue to support his decision until the end but I wish I could make the hurt and disappointment go away. Does anyone have a suggestion for me?

First and foremost, kudos to you for being such a supportive spouse. It is not easy being married to a Firefighter, and even more challenging to be betrothed to an aspiring and eager candidate who has yet to get the word.

One need look no further than corporate or political news of the day to see that those who win are often those willing to re-invent and re-invigorate themselves. We're not just talking about "thinking outside the box", but rather bl*wing up the boxes that constrain us.

If your husband has been working in earnest for some time without success, the first thought that comes to mind is to look at his advice and advisors.

Has he been religiously reading the current messages and all of the archives here in the PFC Forums?

Has he been seeking and actively listening to new and increasingly capable and diverse mentors?

Has he been willing to investigate career possibilities in communities that are two time zones away?

If the answer to any or all of those are no, then he has not been doing *everything* necessary (not merely desireable but necessary) to secure a fire service career.

While there is likely to be a need for some degree of compromise, he needs to balance (and you each need to share the notion that you understand) the idea that some sacrifices are reasonable, and others are not. Your communication and understanding of these boundaries is paramount. Similarly, his need for confidence at home, the workplace and testing arena is essential. These are things that no one but you can provide.

Then of course, we have to understand that while nearly anyone can embark on some aspect of fulfilling work to serve the public, not everyone can or should be a career Firefighter. While I admire tenacity, the truth is that as the years go by, one should always have a Plan B. If you've followed some recent threads in this forum, you understand some of the parallel career opportunities that abound.

Similar to your husband's need for a mentor is your need to have a support system. As your husband develops a relationship with mentors that evolve over time, see if it is possible for you to meet some of their spouses. While you are never a part of "the club" until your husband earns the badge, you will likely find some receptive spouses who understand and appreciate what you are experiencing.

After reading the insightful offerings of Chief Lepore's wife, I hope that someday they might work to offer a special seminar where spouses have a separate track to meet, greet, share and understand that they are not alone.

It took me seven long un-married years to get my act together and get hired, and in the process, I went through several relationships. I can't imagine how one person could have put up with all that I was going through - nor could I overestimate how wonderful it would have been to have had that one special person alongside me throughout the journey.

Your husband is a lucky man. When the time is right, I hope that you will openly discuss the many opportunities and challenges that remain for him to join our vocation.

With your continued sun on his face, and your wind in his sails, the journey will be both more pleasant and expeditious.

Best Wishes,

Please no e-mail. Public replies only. Thank you!

Brain is right. There is a treasure of information in the depths of this bulletin board.

You might gain some insight from this posting:

This is from a previous posting:

The first thing I ask when I hear this comment is are you using a tape recorder to hear what's coming out your mouth? What the panel is going to hear? Have you had a coaching session from a qualified person to find our where you are stuck? The answer to both of those is usually no.

You can find more on coaching information in this previous posting

This previous posting from 1097 sounds a lot like where your husband might be:

Man did I bl*w it!

I have been following the thread about coaching and just wanted to add a little from my own experience. I have been working at this for a long time. I have great experience, a bachelor?s degree, am in great shape and do well on all my written testing. Recently I scored No 1 on a hire list and was closing in on sealing it all up. My original oral interview which I did not expect to get to went great. I heard that folks where really excited to see me getting to move on to the chiefs interview and I reviewed just what I had done for the last interview, reviewed all of my notes and got plenty of rest.

The day of the chief?s interview I was the first one in. I wasn?t too happy about being the first to go but that?s the way it was. I was really nervous, hadn?t slept well the night before and was not feeling at all prepared even though I thought I had done everything I could have. The oral went like most do standard questions and took about 30 min. I thought I had done pretty well, some of the questions they had tacked on seemed to lead in another direction but I didn?t let it bother me too much and moved on out.

A week later I got the call and I was passed up. I have been here before but not for a long time and this time I was really shaken up. I couldn?t believe that this had happened; I was everything that this department wanted and more. How could they not see it? So I sat down and began to go through everything I had done. After days and nights go going over and over and over it all again I realized that it had to be me. There was something that I just wasn?t getting about this interview process. Something that I was not preparing for properly but this still didn?t make any sense to me. I have been speaking and presenting for years, I?m comfortable in most situations and can think on my feet and besides how is it they couldn?t see me for what and who I really am? But there I was and it looked like no matter how I examined it, it had to be something I was missing. So I reached out to Captain Bob and his son Rob.

I wrote to Rob and explained my situation and waited. He got back to me and we set up a time that we could get together on the phone and go through the basic questions. He asked me to prepare some answers but not to over work them and so over the next week or so I worked through them and by the time of our meeting felt pretty well prepared.

I called on the designated day with a tape recorder hooked into my phone to make sure I didn?t miss anything. From the very first question it was obvious to Rob that I was way off the mark and by the end of the session it was there plan as day for me to see just how I was torpedoing myself. I couldn?t believe I was so far off. I was embarrassed that what I thought was the right thing was so much the wrong. The hardest thing for me to get over was that I had really done some great stuff but this all had to temperred down to a level that showed any panel that I was the one person that they could: mould, depend on, trust and know that I was going to be 100% accountable for my decisions. I was walking into these interviews thinking that they already know all of that and man was I wrong.

I came away from this experience with a much better understanding of things and feeling 100% more confident. For anyone who is feeling the slightest bit uneasy about going to their orals get some coaching help and get it early. Make your oral presentation skills as big a part of your normal weekly routine just like you EMS exam questions, fire fighting questions and PT.

I now know I did myself in on this last exam and with that will be much better prepared for the next one. Shame on me and congrats to the person that just got hired. Be safe

"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

Fire "Captain Bob" Author, Becoming A Firefighter

This message was edited by captbob on 9-22-04 @ 5:01 AM

Thank you both for taking the time to respond.
Brian I must answer "yes" to all of those questions above. He spends hours on this bulletin board and I find myself getting upset at times because it seems he spend a lot of his spare time trying to improve himself to get hired. He has read books about getting hired, been coached by Captain Bob's son Rob and Paul Lepore and has been to many classes and seminars. He is volunteer for a department and is always training. He has TV videos, recorded tapes of interviews but he just can't get his foot in the door. I hope one day some department will give him a chance! They won't regret it!
Thank you for your support, not only the support you have given me today but the support you give my husband everyday.

Thank You!!

As a (future)fire wife too, I totally understand what you are going through. If it's any comfort, you are not alone.

Send me a pm if you'd like to talk.

I am also a wife of a (future FF). It is a constant struggle everyday but we have come this far (4 long years) and we will keep truckin until he reaches his goal as a FF/PM. Anyone who wants to chat email me at I would love to hear from you and have someone to talk with about all the heartache and triumphs!

I have coached people in the past who have not gotten hired, like your husband. They have then done a second session with me and I found that the problems I had seen in the initial session had some how crept back into the presentation. Things like sounding over confident, using to many uh s, rambling and not knowing when to stop talking, the list goes on an on.

Have him re-visit the tape of his sessions, or better yet, do it with him. Then see if you can find if any of those things that we tried to change, have made it back into his presentation.

Good Luck, Captain Rob

Wow- that post from firewife was exactly what I had logged on to write! My husband has been testing for a three years (I know- not that long in the scheme of things), and having a hard time getting past the written test. I am running out of encouraging things to say to my husband each time he receives that test score (that is enevitably a few points away from the cut-off). He is really getting down on himself, and I am trying to be as supportive as possible, but I start to wonder too... when do you say "enough"? If it is this hard to get past the first step...

(Trying to be)Patient Wife

Be patient. Those who persevere will get jobs. However, getting a job is only the begining of the ride. There are routine stressors that you will face with your husband/wife throughout his/her career. Probation, promotional exams, bad calls, department politics etc.. are examples of stressors that could affect the whole family. Depending on how you (the couple) deal with it will dictate whether you grow stronger or lead to problems. I have been in the fire service for 20 years. My wife is truly an inspiration to me. Supportive, intuitive, and wise. She is cornerstone of our happy healthy family (we have 2 young daughters).

I echo what Andre said. Those who are persistent and identify their weaknesses will ultimately get hired. I know dozens upon dozens of people who tested for the fire department while their wives worked (many with 2 jobs) while their husbands volunteered time, worked as a reserve firefighter, took fire science classes or went through the fire academy.

Many have made some pretty incredible sacrifices. Come graduation day seeing their wife pin the badge on their chest hasway of making them forget all of the hardships it took to get there.

While I was a firefighter for six years before I met my wife Marian, she best thing that has ever happened to me. I could not imagine life without her. If you speak to anyone who knows us, they will definitely tell you that she is my best redeeming quality.

I could not do it without her love and support. She is my best friend.
Paul Lepore, Battalion Chief
Author of:
"Smoke Your Firefighter Interview"
"The Aspiring Firefighter's 2-Year Plan
Think outside of the box!
800 215-9555

It took me ten years to get into the job. Throughout this time I experienced every emotion known to man and without the support of my wife I don't know how I would have got through it. Never give up. Try to turn the bad times into good ones (If you don't laugh you'll cry) Remember that "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger" Try to get your own support network cause it's just as hard for you as it is for him. For me at times during those ten years it seemed that the only normal thing in my life was my wife. Sometimes just being there is all you can do but dont underestimate how important that is.
Best of luck,

please see against all odds
This message was edited by wifejennie on 10-13-07 @ 11:03 AM

If it is his dream.....