By Michelle Bogle
Your firehouse brothers and sisters are your second family – and they always will be.
Retirement from a life-long career can be stressful for most people, regardless of the occupation. But for firefighters, that final descent down the ladder can be downright scary. You spent decades planning, training and developing your skills in public safety, but civilian life makes you feel like an unprepared rookie. Many retired firefighters will tell you that getting into the fire service was easy compared to leaving. There are few resources and supports for this often not discussed transition.
If you are feeling stressed about your upcoming retirement, you’re not alone. Here are some steps that you can take now to navigate your end-of-career change and enjoy the last five years of service:
1. Make a plan
Whether you expect to retire by a certain date or it happens unexpectedly, it’s important to start planning for your retirement in advance. You need to be emotionally, mentally and financially prepared for any new challenges that you may face.
2. Talk to your family
Retirement from firefighting can be a difficult adjustment for your spouse and family because it becomes their identity too. Talk to your family about the impact your retirement may have on your personal life and keep the lines of communication open.
3. Learn from your comrades
Talk to other retired firefighters to find out how they were impacted by the transition. This is a great opportunity to share your concerns and gain relevant advice to feel better equipped.
4. Discover your passions now
Too often firefighters retire without a plan for how they will spend their time, only to become resentful about their decision to hang up their gear. By finding clarity in your purpose well before you retire, you can embrace this next chapter with confidence.
5. Seek financial advice
The sooner you seek financial advice, the better prepared you’ll be. Without sufficient funds, some firefighters remain in service longer than expected or struggle financially when they do retire. A financial advisor can also devise a budget to support your new lifestyle and recommend other retirement savings options beyond your pension.
6. Make friends
Your firehouse brothers and sisters are your second family – and they always will be. However, it’s natural to drift apart when you trade in your uniform for civilian clothes. Having non-fire service friends will broaden your social circle and round out your support system as you settle into this next chapter.
Exiting a career is stressful, but if you put as much care into retiring as you do on the job, you’ll position yourself to make these the best years of your life.
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