From episode: Navigating the First Year as a Firewife, Loss, and Resilience
we are talking to a newer firewife, Krista Harkin. Krista is a mother of two, a proud firewife and a powerhouse in Chicago's real estate scene. She leads one of the city's top real estate teams. Krista's journey into the firefighting lifestyle is a relatively recent one, but it didn't take long for her to grasp the profound reality of what it means to be married to a firefighter. Shortly after her husband graduated from the Chicago Fire Academy, his engine company faced the heart wrenching loss of one of their own in the line of duty. It was a life altering experience that left a lasting impact on their family. But the challenges didn't stop there. Just months later, Krista's family encountered an unexpected medical emergency that forced her husband into a six month long medical leave. These unforeseen events brought about significant changes in both her work and family life. However, they also offered her a unique perspective. Krista now deeply understands the importance of letting go of what cannot be controlled, especially when confronted with the unexpected obstacles that inevitably come with the firefighting life. Krista's journey took an intriguing turn when her husband introduced her to our podcast. Listening to the show, she found comfort in hearing the stories of other women who shared her experiences, assuring her that there is a strong community of support for firefighting families spanning across the nation. Furthermore, Krista gained a newfound appreciation for the vast differences between wildland firefighting and city firefighting. With this fresh perspective and a desire to connect with others who share her journey, Krista is here to share her own story. We believe her experiences and insight resonate deeply with many of our listeners, providing a unique and valuable connection in the world of firefighting and the challenges it brings to families like hers. So without further ado, let's delve into Krista's inspiring journey and the invaluable lessons she's learned along the way. Welcome, Krista. Thank you so much. Thanks for the introduction and for having me. So tell us a little bit more about your family background, how long your firefighter has been with the department. So relatively newer as a fire wife and fire mom. My husband graduated from the academy in 2021. So just about almost going on the fourth year now. And we have two kids ages four and two. So your hubby started in 21 in the middle of pandemic. Yes. Yeah. It was super fun. So it was tough, honestly. I mean, obviously none of us knew how long it was going to last. Chicago was pretty strict with the lockdowns right away. And, you know, in real estate, it was a very busy time, which was great career wise. And also we were adapting to the shifts of everything. So, you know, that was very busy. I was also pregnant and had a two year old. And at that time, let's see, I guess he was in the academy right when COVID hit, so 2020. And then he graduated 2021. So he was gone pretty much every day, going to the academy for 2020 while I was home working with, you know, being pregnant and having our other child. And I was pretty isolated, honestly. We did everything with work via Zoom. And especially with my team, we're very, very connected, almost like a second family. So that was a big emotional switch for me. I'm just a person that needs to be around people. I need to have that connection and a vibe off of other people's energy. So it was tough. It was tough Okay. Tell us what it's like in a big city department, like Chicago Fire. We were just talking about this off the air. Chicago still has the, you know, you have to live within so many miles to actually be in the department, which we don't have that out here. There's no way. It's not possible. So give us like a little breakdown of how Chicago Fire operates. Sure. Yeah. So it's, I mean, it's pretty strict rules. Like when he first got into the academy, there was actually somebody that came out to our house and made sure that we lived in the city grounds, came into our house, looked at everything in our house. It was pretty crazy. I had no idea that that was going to happen. I didn't know what to expect there. And then from there on, it was just pretty much known. And I mean, my husband did give me a heads up on that, but you know, we also never knew when exactly he would get called. I think he signed up for the list maybe like seven years ago or something. And so, you know, part of us were like, well, he might not ever get called because you can't get called past 40 years old. But then he did, he got called right in the start of COVID. And, you know, we just knew from there that he was going to accept it and go through it and graduate and be a firefighter in Chicago. And we were going to have to stay in the city for forever, pretty much. So that was definitely another mind shift for me and something I had to adapt to because I'm from Wisconsin. And I think somewhere in the back of my head, I was like, I think maybe we'll move back to Wisconsin and, you know, be closer and be out of the city life. But, yeah, it's not going to happen.