Firefighters find respite through second jobs

The schedule of Midland Fire Department personnel allows these first responders to work other jobs on their days off.

Firefighter paramedic A.J. Moore is one who has taken advantage of the schedule and is using his time off to grow his pest control business.

Moore said solving pest problems provides a break from his fire department duties.

“They’re completely, totally different from each other, and that’s the beauty of it,” Moore said. “The firefighter paramedic job is very mentally challenging sometimes. It’s an emotional-type job, based on what you experience, have to face and the trauma that goes along with it.”

Moore said residents often show appreciation for his work as a firefighter. He also builds trust with the clients who turn to his business, Firebug.

“It’s always been a job I had and just fell into,” Moore said. “I always had the entrepreneur-type mentality. Being a firefighter, you work 48 hours straight and have 96 hours off. It gives you time to do it.”

Other MFD firefighters said the department’s schedule contributed to their decisions to pursue additional jobs. The free days allow Capt. Aaron Cox to work as a nurse practitioner at Medical Center Hospital.

“The majority of us don’t necessarily have to work a part-time job, but we do it because we have time off,” Cox said. “The majority of firefighters or nurses don’t do it for the money. We do it to help people.”

Cox developed an interest in the medical field while taking people to the hospital as a paramedic. Now working in an emergency room, he notices connections between his two jobs.

“I think it sharpens skills,” Cox said. “The biggest thing about being a professional is strengthening your skills. The fire department prepares me for that and vice versa.”

Another firefighter, Mitchell Healer, also notices similarities between his roles at MFD and a second workplace. Healer works as a firefighter paramedic and is a part-time EMS instructor at Midland College.

“It makes me stay on top of my game,” Healer said. “I hold myself to a higher expectation of doing that. Students see me doing exactly what I do.”

Healer sometimes teaches just after ending a 48-hour shift. With the two jobs, he still finds time to play softball with other first responders and connect with loved ones.

“It’s just like anybody else who works a full-time job,” Healer said. “With this 48, 96 schedule, I get more weekend time consecutively with my family.”

Capt. Jayme Farmer is also grateful his jobs allow him to spend time with family. He and his wife, Desiree, started 6 Alarm Grafix, which sells custom apparel and drinkware.

In addition to handling printing machinery for the home-based business, Farmer works at the city clinic a few times a month. He values the opportunity to have positions in various fields.

“I think if somebody was to have a job seven days a week that required little sleep and a stressful situation, I think they would burn out,” Farmer said. “It’s kind of nice to have a break from the tolls of the city — behind the scenes that not everybody gets to see.”