Firefighter humor stops being funny when civilians aren't in on the joke

Even the most benign joke from a first responder to a taxpayer can seem hurtful, flippant and even cruel


Firefighters are pretty funny people. They like to joke around, they are clever with making up slang and nicknames and they can appreciate a well-crafted prank. The culture may also encourage the quick, witty response, and the sarcastic observation.

Humor plays an important role in the fire service. It allows for an indirect way of confronting low-level interpersonal problems. It lightens the mood and provides a break when the tasks of the job become too heavy and dark. Inclusive humor can help build teams and solidify crews.

However, for humor to be effective in a fire station and fire culture, it must meet a certain standard: Positive and constructive humor comes from a place of inclusion, equality and mutual understanding about the issue at hand. Thus, using typical firefighter humor with the general public may not go over so well.

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