ST. CLOUD -- It's about as far from a typical 9-5 desk job as you could have, being a firefighter.

The career comes in as #2 on our top 10 most stressful jobs list, developed by St. Cloud fireman, Derek Metzger says he kind of fell into the career.

"I didn't get into the fire service the way a lot of people did, where they had family members, their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents were in the fire service. It was something I kind of stumbled into by accident, I had taken an EMT course when I was in college and fell into the emergency services that way. I learned about becoming a firefighter and what it entailed, the more I learned the more I fell in love with what the job was."

Unlike most eight hour work days, Metzger's is the entire day.

"We show up for shift somewhere between 7:00 a.m. - 7:30 a.m. you relieve the person before you. You're here for 24 hours, you spend the whole day here, and really the way the schedule works is you spend 1/3 of your life working at the fire department."

With having such long hours, Metzger says he's often away from his family and his co-workers become a second family.

"You become really close with everyone you work with, you spend the whole day together so you bring meals, you go to the grocery store to pick up your meals and it's a very close nit group of people."

When you think of a firefighter's job the first thing that comes to mind is they battle fires but there's much more than that.

"EMS is a big portion of what we do. It's probably the majority of the calls we go on is EMS. But more than that we specialize in a lot of others areas like hazmat, technical rescue, water rescue all sorts of different things."

To perform all of these duties firefighters have to stay in top physical condition.

"It's a lot of things to maintain, there's a lot of training that takes up a portion of your day."

The well-known stresses, rescuing someone from a burning building, saving someone who is trapped inside their car after a crash and giving emergency medical treatment are only scratching the surface of stressful situations a firefighter battles on a daily basis.

"There's anything from cancer prevention to just maintaining your physical body, it can wear and tear on you. You might have a long time in between calls where you have to do some strenuous activities, just maintaining your physical fitness, it's a lot of those little stressors that accumulate that make it more of a stressful job."

Working out can reduce the stress load, Metzger says unwinding as a team can also help reduce stress.

"Whether you are playing cards together, playing table tennis together, something like that just to kind of blow off some steam will help relieve that stress a little bit from the job."

For anyone looking to get into the field, Metzger says do your research before making any commitments.

"You have to ask yourself a lot of questions [like] why do you want to get into this line of work. It's definitely not for everybody, it takes a certain mental toughness to deal with some of the situations we deal with but I think overall it is a very enriching experience."

Tune in next week as we wrap up our stressful jobs series with the #1 most stressful job, enlisted military.

Derek Metzger, St. Cloud Firefighter (Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)
Derek Metzger, St. Cloud Firefighter (Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)

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