Welcome! I’m Laurie, a proud fire wife and law enforcement mom. I’m so glad you’ve found this site.
Wife Behind the Fire is dedicated to lowering the rates of first responder suicide and divorce by offering the tools necessary to build lasting and supportive relationships at home through open and effective communication between partners/spouses and evidence-based parenting strategies that have been adapted specifically to address the unique challenges faced by first responders and their families.
While I write from the perspective of the wife of a professional firefighter, I am also the mom of a law enforcement officer. The information and tools you find here can be helpful to law enforcement, social workers, emergency department staff, and any other “helping” profession on the front lines, dealing with people in crisis.
Being A Firewife…
Whether you’ve been married to a firefighter for years or dating one for a few months, you’ve no doubt figured out that this lifestyle can be very challenging. Let’s face it, it’s crazy. The rotating schedule alone can make your head spin. And while at first glance it appears that firefighters have a lot of time off, you quickly learn that’s not the case when you do the math. With the exception of a small number of officers who work days, few if any firefighters work a 40-hour week. An average week can range anywhere from 46 to 57 hours depending on the shift schedule. And those daytime hours off are often filled with second jobs and overtime to help make ends meet. Or sleep. Most firefighters have the uncanny ability to fall asleep anywhere, any time because they’re either catching up on lost sleep or storing it up before going back on the line. When you throw in your own work schedule and then add children to the mix, the stress and strain can push a marriage to the breaking point. Absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder.
There are so many other aspects of the job that present challenges. Today’s firefighters do so much more than fight fires. While sprinklers and building codes have helped reduce the number of actual fires, they still happen and they are harder to fight and more toxic than ever before because of the plastics and other synthetic materials in our homes and offices. Today, more than 80% of 911 calls are for medical assistance involving illness, accidents, and injuries. Today’s firefighter has to cope with viral exposures, bloodborne pathogens, impatient drivers speeding past accident scenes, and active shooters.
Even if a firefighter manages to avoid the direct trauma of injury or illness, they are exposed to secondary trauma through repeatedly being a part of other people’s worst day ever, often multiple times in the same day. Departments are only just beginning to understand and develop services to deal with the toll this type of trauma takes on the mind and body of a professional firefighter. There is precious little support for or understanding of the effects it has on the rest of the family.
Life with a firefighter is definitely not the stuff of romance novels. It is not for the weak or faint of heart. It’s lonely nights in an empty bed. It’s worrying. It’s missed holidays and special occasions. It’s explaining to teachers and coaches, family and friends that you aren’t actually a single parent. And it’s Murphy showing up on shift days because things only seem to break, blow up, flood, bleed, or vomit when they’re at work.
This life can be hard, but it can also be rewarding, amazing, exciting, romantic, and extremely satisfying. I can be done. If you are willing to supply the love, respect, patience, grit, and sheer stubbornness, refusing to give up, I can supply the tools to improve communication and ease the struggles that all parents face that are magnified by fire/first responder life.
My goal is to pass on the things I have learned through education and experience and offer you some helpful tools and strategies to make this crazy life a little easier and help your marriage, family, and first responder survive the job and thrive throughout their career and into a long and happy retirement.
If you’re looking for support and community, check out our Wife Behind the Fire Facebook group. This private group is for WIVES only, you must have the ring and the license. I’m looking forward to starting a new group for girlfriends and fiancés in the near future.
I have been married to a professional firefighter for 23 years. Since marrying my firefighter, I have completed my BS, earned my MS and PhD, homeschooled 3 kids, one with special needs, and run our family farm raising grass-fed beef and selling hay.
Between the two of us we have 6 kids, his, mine, and ours, ranging in age from 40-something down to 18, as well as 3 beautiful grandchildren.
This is my second marriage. I know what it takes to make a good marriage, and I know what a bad one looks like. I have spent the 34 years since I escaped my abusive first marriage working with victims of domestic violence as both a volunteer and professional behavioral therapist.
My PhD is in natural health with a focus on psychology and what motivates people. I am also a DONA certified birth doula, and an NRA instructor certified to teach personal protection inside and outside the home in addition to firearm-based classes.
Most recently I have worked as a licensed behavioral counsellor trained in evidenced-based parenting programs and providing family preservation services to parents who are at risk of losing custody of their children or who have lost custody and are working towards family reunification.
I am open, honest, and occasionally very blunt. I am practical and down-to-earth. I focus on finding solutions. It takes a lot to ruffle my feathers.