Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Opinion: Side hustles – Can firefighters do something outside the fire service?

By King Jerome   

Features Opinion firefighters opinion

Photo: Yuliia/Adobe stock

Fire fighting is the greatest job in the world, and it comes with its own set of challenges and rewards. We’re given work schedules that people dream of having, and we can live practically the same way we would at home, with coworkers who become family to us. However, given the demanding nature of the job and the desire to secure a stable financial future, many firefighters in Canada and the United States are exploring “side hustles” to supplement their income.

It’s no secret that getting into this line of work isn’t for you if you are looking to get rich or have a phenomenal income. However, there may be a few side hustles that will not only offer financial benefits but also provide an avenue for personal growth and skill development.

1. YouTube channel

Yes, you read that correctly. Over the last 20 years, YouTube has come a long way from originally being designed to be a dating website, to the second most powerful search engine in the world. Not only that, but this platform has also created wealth and successful exposure for all varieties of businesses. One quick Canadian example is Justin Bieber—that man had his start on YouTube.

Firefighters possess a wealth of knowledge and experience related to fire safety, emergency response and public safety. Starting a YouTube channel could be an excellent way to share this expertise with a broader audience while generating additional income. If you don’t want to create a channel about this, you could create a channel about something you are passionate about: camping, fishing, hunting, building tree houses, custom welding projects – whatever you like.


Something many people don’t realize bout YouTube is how advanced and well-versed the AI is on that platform. It can bring your videos to people who have shown interest in similar videos, as opposed to traditional advertising where it is more of a shotgun approach.

Money can be made through ads, sponsorships, affiliate marketing, generating leads and so much more than I can cover here. Do not dismiss YouTube as an option, because one video that goes viral could financially change your life.

2. Blogging: Transforming experience into engaging content

Like a YouTube channel, blogging offers firefighters the opportunity to share their insights and experiences, but this time in written form. Starting a blog focused on fire safety, emergency response strategies, or other personal passions can not only attract readers, but also generate income through advertising, affiliate marketing and sponsored content. Quality and informative blog posts can establish the blogger as an authority in their field, leading to speaking engagements, book deals and other opportunities.

A blog can serve as a platform for raising awareness about fire safety issues and providing valuable resources to the public. Many people may think that people don’t read blog posts, but they would be wrong. Whenever someone searches the internet for a question, nine out of 10 times, Google will recommend content from a blog that they have deemed as a successful answer to the question.

3. Lead generation: Capitalizing on networking skills

Now this is something that you may not have thought could be done by a single person, but it can, and it is one of my personal favorites. I want you to think of websites like Zillow, Realtor and Trulia for real estate; sites like Thumbtack, Angie’s list and HomeAdvisor for contractors to do some kind of work on a home. Do you know what these six websites have in common? They are all lead generation, also known as referral sites. These are some big sites, and because of that, there are gaps that large sites don’t even bother covering. This is where we, as the small guys and gals, can come in and get a piece of the pie for ourselves.

If you’ve ever spent time in any profession where you depend on leads for your business, you know very well that some of those leads that are given to you, especially if they are free, have been decimated and dismantled with people constantly calling them to the point that they are worn out when you call them. With a smaller site, leads are typically fresher and haven’t been bombarded by other people, and that alone is very valuable to businesses.

As an example, I have a website like this for kitchen remodeling. I know nothing about kitchen remodeling, but my site makes it seem like I do. By answering specific questions commonly asked in forums, on Google and other sites, I created my FAQ page. Now, when a customer calls my site for service, I send that lead to an actual contractor that does kitchen remodeling. I get paid a “finders” fee, and they work out the rest of their dealings with the customer. So those contractors keep coming back to me because of the quality I can provide for them. This is something you could do as well.

4. Real estate: Investing for long-term financial growth

Real estate investment can be a powerful wealth-building side hustle for firefighters with an interest in property. Whether it’s purchasing rental properties, fixer-uppers, or participating in real estate crowdfunding platforms, investing in real estate can provide passive income over time. Firefighters can sometimes have flexible schedules, which can allow them to manage their real estate investments effectively. While real estate requires initial capital and research, it has the potential for long-term financial growth and stability, making it an attractive option for those looking to secure their financial future.

This is popular in our line of work and there are many resources you can talk to if you want to learn more, but I want to leave you with a few ideas that I enjoy.

You have the traditional renting model and fixer-uppers, but there is also wholesaling that I enjoy. It’s almost like lead generation where you essentially charge a finder’s fee. The way this would work is you find a home that the current owner is looking to get rid of, whether it’s a situation where they need to leave their home, looking to move as soon as possible, or even foreclosure. I would sign a purchase agreement with the seller for a very low price – let’s say $90,000. I would then sell the property to another investor for $130,000. With the money in between, I would pay for closing costs while keeping the remainder. This may not be for everyone, but it has worked for me in the past.


Canadian firefighters looking to increase their income have several lucrative side hustle options at their disposal. From sharing their expertise through YouTube and blogging to leveraging their networking skills for lead generation and investing in real estate, these side hustles can provide financial benefits while allowing firefighters to explore their passions and expand their horizons. It’s important to approach these side hustles with dedication, a willingness to learn and a focus on maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

I want to be clear that all of these are not get-rich-quick schemes, nor should you expect immediate success. All of these must be approached with the long-game mentality. Although there is a low barrier of entry, many people quit before they reach success. Knowing that this can take months to years to finally obtain success, just know that during your journey, you will be picking up a lot of skills that are necessary for you to be successful.

I hope this helps and shows you the possibility of becoming financially free—it will take hard work because it is a steep learning curve. You can do this!

Editor’s note: The thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author.

King Jerome is a firefighter paramedic in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, U.S.A. He enjoys writing about his experiences in the fire service on his blog:

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