Confessions of a Firefighter’s Wife

Firefighter Life: Hot or Not?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever fantasized about being married to one of America’s heroes. It’s all six-pack abs, perfect hair, and sexy stories of rescue…right?

While we love the pictures that TV and movies have painted of us, we have to be honest: the life of a firefighter’s spouse isn’t all abs and butterflies. To help shed light on the reality of living the firefighter wife life, we’ve asked some spouses to share their stories, and we have to say, they didn’t hold back!

Check out our interviews and discover the beautiful and sometimes ugly truth behind being married to some of the hardest-working people around!

Gail and JP Clinton

Confession of Gail Clinton: wife of JP Clinton, captain at Station 6C.

My husband is JP Clinton, who is now one of the two captains at Station 6C. JP has been with the department since 2000. He started as a firefighter, then went through the Paramedic Academy and then studied for the captain’s test. He has been a captain for five years. I call him my professional student since he has been studying nonstop since we met. In the time we have been together, he has worked hard for three associate degrees and one bachelor’s degree. He is currently working on his second bachelor’s degree.

We did everything backwards to get to where we are at today.

We started dating in 2002, and shortly after, he deployed to Iraq in 2004 when our daughter was four months old. He returned soon after her first birthday. We finally moved in together in 2006. On April Fool’s Day 2008, while running errands, we decided to get married. We drove downtown to get a license, went to the drive-thru wedding chapel, and said “I DO” then continued with our errands. We didn’t tell anyone (except some family). Our secret got out and people were not happy with us, so we had a party for all in April 2011.

Together, we have three kids. I am the bonus mom of our two older kids: a 26-year-old son Chandin, and our 25-year-old daughter Cierra. She and her husband blessed us with our first grandson Nixon. Next, we have our youngest daughter, 17-year-old Ryein. We share our house with Marli (our spoiled and loyal black lab), Emma (English bulldog), and Frankie (the French bulldog who was supposed to be mine but has turned into JP’s buddy. Those two are thick as thieves). Now that JP finally retired after serving 23 years in the military (eight with the Coast Guard and fifteen with the Navy Reserves) we make it a habit to get out of the heat to ride our RZR and camp as much as possible.

I never really thought much of firefighters as being someone I would date. I only knew firefighters were the brave ones who ran into a building when everyone was running out. They were who you called for an emergency. I rarely came in contact with firefighters. Then I met JP.

Being together with my firefighter started off hard. I soon realized I was a “married-single mom.”

Once I figured out the routine, it became a more manageable cycle. I learned to be flexible when making family arrangements because we knew things could change on a dime. I schedule things around my life, and if he could go, that was a bonus. Firefighter’s schedules are crazy and when you add force hires and regular overtime into the mix, planning anything becomes more hectic. These issues were very challenging in the beginning, but we have learned to roll with the flow. I would get so upset that I made plans and then have to cancel them because I didn’t have a backup plan. Always plan for the worst and be grateful when things work out.

Time was very minimal for the first part of JP’s career because of his firefighter and military reserve schedules. So, the kids and I would go to Magic Mountain almost every month because of his military drill weekend. The girls and I would leave the boy’s home. Chandin wasn’t a fan of roller coasters, so he usually stayed home. It gave JP and Chandin time to relax, and we had free doggy care. I found something the girls and I liked together, and it was our treat. But it gave us all time to unwind. The girls and I had a blast, and JP had time to himself, which was very rare.

People tease firefighters about laying in recliners all day just waiting on a call. That is the biggest lie ever told. Firefighters are busy all the time. JP started at Station 4 when we first met. I was lucky enough to do several ride-a-longs before that privilege was taken away. I was able to see first-hand some of the calls they ran, and that was an eye-opener. Then he bid station 43 for few years and then bid Station 1B for ten years. Station 1B life is hectic. There are calls to run, rigs to clean, station chores to get done, meals to cook, training classes, PT happening, and the rings and bells going off all day and night. It is ‘go go go’ at the station. When JP gets home, it is quiet time. When the kids were younger, I would take them and do things out of the house to keep the house calm and peaceful. Firefighters might be home for a few days in a row, but on those days, anything can happen. If they are at busy stations, most like to come home and rest for a few hours, especially after working 48 hours or maybe longer. So, you lose a day to sleep, but life continues. Just because they are home for a few days doesn’t mean it’s all fun and games.

If I were to give one piece of advice out to someone newly dating or getting married to a firefighter, it would be two things: One, your firefighter makes decisions all day long at work (again or 48 or more hours); they just want to turn their brains off when they arrive home. Just make the easy decisions and make what you want for dinner because they’ll eat whatever you cook. Second, give your firefighter space. When he gets off shift he needs some quiet time to settle down, so keep the honey-do lists until day two.

No one sat me down and said, “this is going to be the hardest relationship of your life.” But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I wish someone sat me down when I first met JP and gave the ugly truth of what it is truly like being with someone who has this job. I had to learn that you don’t always have a partner home to help run the household. I had to make many decisions on my own, make all the arrangements, and figure out how to get things done without calling him several times a day.

So far, it seems I have made mostly the right decisions. Sometimes I made the wrong ones, and we are ok with that. I did the best I could. I have gained so much from being a firefighters’ wife. I have an extended family of people who have our back when we need it. So, embrace your fire family and be grateful you have them because they are a network of extraordinary people. I couldn’t imagine not having them in my life. We vacation together, we watch our kids grow up together, we do family outings, and one of my cherished moments are my monthly lunches and wine dates with the other fire wives.

Cory and Savannah Whitlock

Confession of Savannah Whitlock: wife of Cory Whitlock, Captain for City of Las Vegas Fire & Rescue

How long have you been married? Tell us your story?

We will have been married for 4 years in June. We met in Spokane, WA back in October 2014. I was teaching preschool and he was going to school to become a PA. We both just happened to download Tinder and swiped right on each other. He invited me for afternoon coffee, but I had a kid wreak havoc on my classroom that day so I asked if we could instead go to my favorite local bar and get a drink because I needed it. He cracked me up and I talked his head off and despite my awkward goofiness, I didn’t scare him away. I knew he was a keeper. Fast forward to today and now we have 3 dogs and a big ol’ house I can’t keep up with cleaning wise despite being Mexican.

What was your impression of firefighters before you married one? How has it changed?

I have two uncles who are police officers, so I assumed they were just like them: big personalities, funny and with slight egos. I wasn’t that far off. The only thing that has changed is I realized firefighters treat each other as their second family so they create these incredibly tight knit groups.

What do you love about being married to a firefighter?

The schedules! I’m a flight attendant so we both can edit the heck out of our job hours and take off for weeks at a time to travel the world (at least back when the world was open). Plus, like I said previously, you gain a second family. Some of my best drinking and travel partners are other firefighters and their wives.

What is the hardest part about being married to a firefighter?

I don’t like knowing statistically speaking that firefighters die early of cancer and other illnesses. Cory is in the Honor Guard and has attended way more funerals than I’d like to think about.

What is a common myth or misconception about firefighters and about being married to one?

Usually, people don’t realize they’re gone for days at a time. People just think its a 12-hour shift job and I have to clarify that for them.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone dating or about to marry a firefighter, what would it be?

I would tell them, “I hope you like your alone time because you’re going to have a lot of it.” I’m personally thankful for our time apart, it allows us to miss each other, but I understand not everyone is ok with that. Plus, sometimes I like to blare music in the house, and I don’t think he’d appreciate that if he was home.

What do you wish you would have known before marrying a firefighter?

How they can function with zero sleep. Sometimes traveling with a firefighter means they can be up all night and be ok to take a flight or go to breakfast at 6am. My body doesn’t function that way and I struggle to keep up.


By: Amy Chairsell, wife of Tyler Chairsell, firefighter & paramedic

How long have you been married? Tell us your story.
We’ve been married for eight years. Who would have thought a drunken setup via mutual friends would lead to over 12 years of togetherness? I actually went on a blind date with Tyler’s roommate about six months earlier (a NLVFF) who had two significantly chipped front teeth, and though I’m not vain, I was working at a dental office at the time, so it was NOT a match made in heaven. Fast-forward and add a little liquid courage, and here we are!

What was your impression of firefighters before you married one? How has it changed?

I’ve always thought they (most, anyway) were smoking hot. Now I know that to not be the truth. They are confident and sometimes cocky, generally pretty fit, and overall a solid group of men and women who would (for the most part) do anything for each other.

What do you love about being married to a firefighter?

I love my alone time most of all. When Las Vegas voted to switch to a 48/96 shift, you probably saw me at the front of the picket lines begging for its passage. I need those two days alone, by myself, with no one around (*cough* my husband *cough*).

What is the hardest part about being married to a firefighter?

Listening to the sad parts of their jobs, the calls that imprint on them as traumatic and are hard to forget. I know they need to talk about them and vent or get it off their conscience, but I hate hearing the sadness that they have to see sometimes daily.

What is a common myth or misconception about firefighters, and about being married to one?
That they just run on fire calls, when actually they sometimes rarely get to use their hose 😉 They actually respond to over 90% medical calls, which include car accidents, overdoses, and shooting/stabbings, to name a few. Maybe their title should be switched to emergency fighters instead? Just a thought.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone dating or about to marry a firefighter, what would it be?

Hmm, that’s a good question! I’d say not to take them for granted. They work so hard and see so much wrong in the world that it can really weigh on them mentally. Sometimes that can be tough on a relationship. I still threaten my husband with dateline consequences when he’s too tired to call me and check in. But at the end of the day, he is occasionally that overworked, overtired human who just forgets.

What do you wish you would have known before marrying a firefighter?

If that 20-something bod and good hair would last forever. But on a serious note, I wish I would have known or anticipated that we would have a lot of holidays spent apart; I think we’ve spent only two Thanksgivings together in 12 years. And sometimes our family vacations get canceled because he is forced to stay at work (force hired) and we choose not to leave without him. Ultimately, though, it’s been a fun ride and adventure, and any lucky guy or gal who snags one of Las Vegas’s finest should be a welcome part of this brotherhood.


What was your impression of firefighters before you married one? How has it changed?

My father is a retired fire captain for LA County, so I was very aware of what I was getting into. They are like 12 year olds with a wallet.  They usually have a ton of hobbies, are focused on family and fun, and love with all they have. They are also well aware how it can all change in an instant.

What do you love about being married to a firefighter?

They leave… for days at a time.  Let’s you miss them.

What is the hardest part about being married to a firefighter?

They leave… for days at a time.  When the kids are small, this is hard; and when they are gone, you worry.

What is a common myth or misconception about firefighters, and about being married to one?

They are “tuff guys” you know, have huge egos… at work.  At home, they are big teddy bears who want to cuddle and spend time with the people they love.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone dating or about to marry a firefighter, what would it be?

Be able to be alone and rely on yourself for everything. Do not expect chores to be done weekly (they might be gone for the week).  You need to be very confident in yourself and your abilities to truly be in a relationship with a firefighter.  They don’t do well with weak.

What do you wish you would have known before marrying a firefighter?

I already knew, and I still did it!!!  P.S. He was not a firefighter when we met, but I knew that was his goal, and as he has supported me in my goals, so I supported him.