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Career vs. Job

Joseph Kitchen, Bath Twp. Fire Department (Lima, Ohio)

            Many firefighters often use the phrase career in the fire service when referring to their employment or their volunteer work. Regularly I attend career fairs where high school and college students express their desire to pursue a career in the fire service. But, is there a difference between a career in the fire service, or just a job on a fire department? This also applies to our volunteer brethren. Volunteers can engage in a career or end up as just a member on a stations roster. Personally, I never wanted a job on a fire department, that wasnt enough for me. I wanted a true career that I could give one hundred percent of my energy to and be totally engaged with my employment choice. Below is a short quiz to help you figure out which of these you have; a career or a job.

  1. When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, you are excited to get up and get to the firehouse.  (If yes, you have a career.)

  2. You haven’t obtained a new certification since you graduated from the fire academy. (If yes, you have job.)

  3. You are one of the first to arrive at the station before shift change. (If yes, you have a career.)

  4. You are unable to pick Bobby Halton, Billy Goldfeder, or Rick Lasky out of a line up. (If yes, you have a job.)

  5. You love working with rookies and consider training new firefighters one of the most important duties firefighters have. (If yes, you have a career.)

  6. You remind others the date of your retirement down to the year, month, week, and day. (If yes, you have a job.)

  7. You would choose a trip to FDIC over just about any other vacation destination. (If yes, you have a career.)

  8. You complain about the chief, the union leaders, the elected officials, your EMS patients, and your co-workers. (If yes, you have a job.)

  9. You embrace change and are willing to learn new things and try new techniques to be the best firefighter you can be. (If yes, you have a career.)

  10. You work hard to get out of work, rarely doing anything extra for the department. (If yes, you have a job.)

  11. You read Fire Engineering magazine, use the FE app on your phone, and follow it on all of your social media. (If yes, you have a career.)

  12. The majority of the training you have received was obtained at your fire station’s kitchen table. (If yes, you have job.)

  13. You use phrases such as “Pride and Ownership” and “Everyone Goes Home” when speaking about firefighting. (If yes, you have a career.)

  14. You are on “auto pilot” with a focus of just getting through your shift. (If yes, you have job.)

  15. You recognize that being a firefighter is the best job on Earth and that it’s truly an honor to serve. (If yes, you have career.)

    I am sure that many of you could add dozens of these to my list. Certainly, we all know what category we fit into. Hopefully, you have a “career,” if not; it’s time to hang it up or better yet, change your outlook and get fully engaged in what I feel is the greatest career choice anyone could ever make.

Joseph Kitchen, OFC, is the Chief of the Bath Twp. Fire Dept. (Lima, Ohio.) He began his career in 1990 and has served as fire chief since 2002. He holds degrees in EMS and fire science, and in 2012 was named Fire Officer of the Year by the Ohio Dept. of Public Safety. Follow Chief Kitchen on Twitter @bathtwpchief and visit his departments website at




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Comment by Joseph Kitchen on November 20, 2015 at 9:48am

Thanks Mike. I hate seeing talented guys just going through the motions and "getting by." This is the best CAREER in the world, its not just a JOB. Be safe my friend, and have a great Thanksgiving.

Comment by Michael D Wilson, CFEI MDI on November 17, 2015 at 9:36am

Great article, find myself as a "Career", even when I was a volunteer.  Great career, being a firefighter, first responder and taking care of our community.

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