Struggles that come with being in a fire family
On Christmas morning, Sophomore Maddison Harris woke up and felt joy rush over her. She smiled and ran down the stairs to the christmas tree. Her mother was sitting on the chair next to the
bright fire, smiling weakly. Maddison’s face dropped in disappointment. She frowned, and walked over to where her presents were neatly piled. She knew why he wasn’t there. Her father was working at the fire station, busy helping those in need. They began to unwrap the presents apathetically, and after every present had been unwrapped, they took photos, smiling, while the reality of not having the whole family together tugged at their hearts. They sent the pictures to Harris’s father in hope that he would feel as if he was a part of their Christmas morning. For the children of firefighters this is a common situation, as their parent’s job requires them to be separated from their family for long periods of time, and the length of time that they are away from home becomes longer during the fire seasons.
This year, firefighters have been working around the clock to put out the extensive wave of fires.
“We don’t see an end in fire season for…months to come,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, Cal Fire director. With the fire season lasting indefinitely and the large spread of the fires across California, firefighters are starting to feel the heat.
“A firefighter would be up there for…two weeks,” Harris said. Her father, a captain in his unit, is often away from home.
Harris’s family has a long history of fighting fires; her father, grandfather, and uncle all served as firefighters. Despite the toll it
takes on her family life, Harris believes that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages and hardships.
“No one else will be there for the people who need it most.” Harris said.
Harris is not the only student at PRHS whose family makes many sacrifices; junior Averi Kerr’s step-father is often absent in her life, sometimes for periods lasting as long as three weeks. Kerr’s two siblings and her father are constantly working.
Firefighters are often put in near death situations to ensure the safety of others as well as fellow firefighters, or “brothers”.The brotherhood of firefighters is a close knit community, “It’s not a career. It’s a lifestyle,” Harris said.
The entire family works together to get errands done and work around the house.
“When he’s gone, my mom is like
Pressure is often placed on the spouse of a firefighter, whether it’s running the household or taking care of the children alone. Firefighting is a very risky career that can be dangerous or bring hard to deal with memories that can leave firefighters with traumatic memories.
Freshman Dylan Sonniksen is one of many students whose family is a part of the firefighting community . Sonniksen’s step-father is a Captain at Station 2 and is often working overtime. Like most firefighters, he is often working long, tedious hours.
“That’s what I wanna be when I grow up,” Sonniksen said.
“It’s a great career; it’s not for everyone, but you have to have that determination inside of you, that passion, that courage to be able to…put others’ lives before yours,” Harris said.