‘It’s like family’: Huntsville Fire & Rescue’s special camaraderie

single-meta-cal June 10, 2024


It’s a small word with a big sentiment for Huntsville Fire & Rescue (HFR). And, actually, it’s more than just a sentiment. It’s the life of a firefighter, the support and camaraderie of serving alongside colleagues responding to a call of service bigger than themselves.

From District Chief James Gates, a 38-year veteran of HFR: “The camaraderie here at the station, you end up with two families.”

looking down on weight room with men lifting weightsFrom rookie firefighter Madison Crocker, “For me, it’s like a bunch of brothers here. People you can count on, rely on, laugh with. I’ve probably never laughed as much as I have in the fire department. It’s kind of like you’re getting a new family.”

‘Good people’

HFR is accepting job applications through June 14. And as HFR seeks talented candidates, it’s vital to understand what family means.

It’s also vital to understand that, because of family, the job is more than a job.

“This is not a job, it’s a career,” Gates said. “It’s a way of life. When you come here, your life no longer revolves around five days and a weekend. It is every third day, you’re here. And it’s so rewarding. I’ve had so many things that have been special to me over the years, I couldn’t even start to tell you how many.”

The work schedule helps foster the family atmosphere. Firefighters work 24-hour shifts, take 48 hours off, then back to work another 24-hour shift.

Then there is the work itself. The alarm sounds, you jump on the truck and you’re off toward an unknown with nothing to rely on but your training and each other. To safely serve the people of Huntsville, you need your colleagues and they need you.

This is what the HFR family looks like.

Making the grade: Huntsville Fire & Rescue wants to help you pass the test

“When you get a good family, when you get a good station, after five or six years, your family changes because good people get promoted and good people move away,” Gates said. “And you get other good people coming in, so you get to meet more good people.

“These are people here who want to serve, they’re wanting to do things to help people. And it’s usually the kind of people you want to be around.”

Bond of firefighters

The firefighter kinship spreads beyond the fire station. Capt. Cory Green, HFR’s recruiter, said he recently received a shirt from a firefighter in Germany. Gates said he once received a set of bedsheets emblazoned with a department logo from a firefighter in Costa Rica.

group of men sitting around wooden table with red chairs“Unlimited distance, unlimited time, brothers and sisters from anywhere,” Green said of the bond between firefighters.

It’s more than just responding to emergencies together. It’s living together – cooking meals, cleaning the fire station, lifting weights, enhancing skills through training. It’s sharing life together.

“I like to tell people, it’s literally like we are puzzle pieces,” Green said. “But together, it’s a pretty picture because we get the job done and it’s effective and everything that needs to happen gets done.”

It’s family.

“You’re with your crew,” Crocker said. “You know each other, you’ve got each other’s backs, you can rely on each other. And that means everything.”