Ever wondered what it's like to spend the day at the firehouse?  At the Spring Grove Fire Protection District, we have 3 shifts.  Red, Gold and Black.  The shifts are in continual rotation with 24 hours on and 48 hours off for our 9 Regulars.  Each 24 hour shift is additionally broken down into two 12 hours shifts that are filled by our POP (paid-on-premise) members.

Firefighters are to report to the station by 6 am or in some cases 6 pm for shift change.  Being late to work is never acceptable in the fire service because shift change hours are important.  Vital information is relayed between the two shifts that may involve apparatus, personnel, training or community service.

Once a firefighter coming on duty is given their apparatus assignment, they will then relieve the previous shift's firefighter.  Each firefighter is responsible for checking their own gear each and every shift.  If something is broken or needs to be replaced, now is the time to report it and/or fix it.  They will then check out the equipment on the apparatus they are assigned to.  On every apparatus they have to check out the medical equipment, fire equipment, etc as listed on our Daily Apparatus Check Sheet.  Once this task is done, firefighter's can relax and have breakfast before starting the morning's chores.

The day's assignments are given at the beginning of each shift.  The station may have a community service event to attend or training.  All personnel are required to go.  Housework is a daily morning event at the fire house.  Each person is given an assignment to clean a particular area based on the day of the week.  Bathrooms, bedrooms, laundry rooms, kitchen, office etc.  Firefighters take pride in their station and treat it as if it were there own home.  Spring cleaning happens every year and while not many look forward to that, it keeps the firehouse in good condition.  Area residents often stop by the firehouse.

At 9am on Monday's, Tuesday's, and Saturday's, the officer in charge may inform the crew of their in-house fire and EMS training for the day.  In-house training is crucial for firehouses because they need to operate as a team.  The nature of the fire service is that you never know when the tones go off, or what the emergency call will be.  Your team must be prepared for any situtation.  In addition to the daily trainings, every Wednesday, the Spring Grove Fire Protection District hosts trainings for the whole department at 9am and 7pm.  The Wednesday trainings rotate each month through Leadership, Department/Association Meetings, EMS training, Fire Training and SRT Trainings on the months that have five Wednesdays.

Firefighter's are required to work out for a minimum of 30 minutes every shift.  Our station is fortunate enough to have several key pieces of workout equipment including a treadmill, eliptical and weight lifting equipment.  Strength conditioning and cardiovascular conditioning are equally important to firefighting.  Firefighters on the Spring Grove Fire Protection District are required to pass an annual physical agility test every April in addition to an annual physical exam.  It is mandatory that they meet or exceed the standards set for them by the district.

So, shift change has happened, assignments given and housework is done.  Everyone who is working that day has gotten their workout in or scheduled a time to do it in the afternoon... its is almost time for lunch.  After lunch, each firefighter has time to either complete morning tasks that haven't been finished (possibly due to calls) or works on Shift's assigned tasks.  Red Shift maintains EMS records including Quality Review of patient's care, preparing EMS trainings and tracking continuing education hours.  Gold shift maintains the yard and building maintenance.  And Black shift maintains equipment including iventory of goods and maintenance and repairs.

Dinner time is always a relaxing time at the firehouse.  A good meal is a great way to head into the evening hours.  After the meal, everyone participates in doing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen, bathrooms, taking out the garbage and mopping the floors.  If the apparatus are dirty, everyone heads out to the bay to clean them.

Men and women have seperate locker/bathrooms at the firehouse.  Sleeping quarters are similar to a coed dorm where each twin bed is seperated by a partition of some type.  Depending on the shift, you may have 2-4 people sleeping in the same room.  Unlike what you may have seen in the movies or on TV, fire gear is not allowed in the living areas of the fire station.  Fire gear gets dirty depending on the amount and type of runs you may incur during your shift.  OSHA standards prohibit the gear from entering the living areas.  Firefighters sleep in a t-shirt and shorts or sweats and put their gear on when they get to their apparatus.

Sometime firefighters may not sleep through the night without a run during their shift.  In fact you may be so busy during the day that none of the above mentionded duties actually get completed!  You just have to fit them in when you can.  Shift change for the next day always comes around at 6 am.  Many firefighters have full-time or part time jobs that they work on their days off.  Either way, the 48 hours off in between is time to recover until the next shift.