Canadian Firefighter Magazine


Jennifer Grigg   

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Oct. 19, 2015, Port Severn, Ont. - My life consists of work, family (two teenage daughters, one husband, two black labs, three guinea pigs and a rabbit), fire calls, fire training, writing (when I have time - which clearly there hasn't been much of this year) and of course, laundry and keeping up with the housework. And, at this particular moment, watching the Jays in game three of the ALCS.

It's a pretty busy life, but isn't everyone's?

These days it seems as though life just keeps going faster. We're so busy that we don't even stop long enough to ask ourselves if what we're doing is making us happy and fulfilling our fundamental needs; think Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

But I'm on a mission to slow it down.

I was starting to feel like a hamster on a wheel in my role as the technical assistant in the building department and was ready for a change. I made an appointment with the director of human resources to discuss potential growth opportunities.

My options were limited, there were only two positions for which HR was recruiting: snow plough driver with the operations department (which I almost considered, since I have my DZ) or an eight-month contract position as acting deputy clerk.

As I mulled the options in my mind, I mumbled something about wishing I could just take a month off and work on my next book. To my utter surprise and delight, the director of HR said, "Actually, that is another option because it's in your collective agreement." I can take time off without pay or benefits, if approved by my two bosses (because I'm still considered to be working in both building and planning) and the CAO, and I would have to give a month's notice.

I left the HR director's office that day unsure which direction to take but feeling optimistic that I at least had options.

The seed had been planted.

When I mentioned my conversation with HR to my boss, he questioned my willingness to go a month without a paycheque. I tried to explain to him that the time off is worth more to me than the paycheque. I can do so much more with the time than I do with the money. I don't think he really got it, but I knew then that the idea was resonating with me on a very deep level.

It was one of those things that you just know is right for you, and you don't feel the need to explain it to anyone else.

I'm not sure what the ultimate catalyst was for me making the decision, but once I made the official request to go ahead with the leave, it was approved before I could second guess myself. The noticeable sense of relief I felt when hearing the news solidified my choice if there were any doubt. A little unconventional maybe, but the more I thought about it, the more sure I was that this was the right move for me.

So what will I do with my month off? My plan is to spend time connecting with people who inspire me in the fire service and learn about what inspires them. I've always been fascinated by what makes people tick, and I know from experience that the fire service draws a certain unique breed. Fodder for my next book and a great opportunity to connect with others who share the passion for the mysterious enigma that is the fire service.

Let me know if you want to chat!


Jennifer Grigg has been a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario since 1997. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @georgianbayjen

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