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  • 07/18/2006
  • WildlandFire.com Team
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Ladies with grumpy FFs;

Kind of an intro, ‘cuz we’ve got new folks on the site (warmly welcomed, by the way)…I was a hotshot’s girlfriend for three years before becoming a FF myself (small-town volunteer), and now my SO (different guy) is a cop. There are some very good books out there on the psychology of police officers, and some of them have good advice on how to be a police officer’s SO. Some of the advice is pretty applicable to grumpy FFs too. Here’s a sketch.

A firefighter on the line is often at the [Fireline High]. They feel alive, humorous, active, and strong.

Normal people tend to stay pretty much between the top and bottom of the blue line in the Normal Range, without huge swings.
When they’re off the line, firefighters tend to crash: where they feel dead, down, and weak in the Grumpy FF region.

Basically, there’s lots of reasons for this, but when coming off the adrenaline high of the fireline, there’s gonna be a crash; the highs are just so high that body has to go low to compensate. Trying to get back up into normal ranges, firefighters off the line will try to simulate that high, or just get back into normal ranges, with risk-seeking behaviors, impulse buying, and sometimes promiscuity or ‘reflexive attachment’ (falling in love hard and fast). This is loosely translated from “On Killing” by Dave Grossman and “Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement and their families” by Kevin Gilmartin; they’re mostly about training soldiers and police officers, but both books have neat applications for anybody in high-adrenaline jobs. 

So what can we, the SOs, do? Be supportive, respect his down time, be aware of risk-seeking behavior and impulse purchases. I read up a lot on post-traumatic stress disorder a while back, and from everything I’ve read, it sure sounds to me like the best cure for that, and for the seasonal blues, is good food and a welcoming home (both of which I think you ladies have covered). I mean, how down can you be with a big plate of ribs, a hot fudge sundae, and a lady you love in front of you?

Nerd on the Fireline

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