“Fire Buff”: What it is and why it matters

Nearly every occupation has its fans and supporters, but some have fans that take it to a whole new level. No, we’re not talking about sports fans or rock music fans, but rather, fire buffs. What exactly is a fire buff?

A fire buff is someone that is a fan of emergency services, in particular firefighters. Also, while many firefighters are fans of the fire service, many people who describe themselves as fire buffs are not actual firefighters. They will raise money for firefighters, take photos of fire scenes, and spread information in the community about emergency services.

There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to fire buffs, and we’re going to do it all ahead. Make sure you keep reading, as there’s lots of great information to come! 

What Is a Fire Buff?

Buff can mean a lot of things, from musculature to a type of leather. It also usually refers to someone who knows a lot about something.

That’s a fire buff in a nutshell.

Fire buffs are dedicated to their local emergency services, with firefighters chief among them. 

A fire buff may be an individual or part of an organization with fellow buffs. In some instances, fire departments have been known to use fire buff organizations as a type of auxiliary service.

That being said, fire buffs are not firefighters themselves. They may know about fires thanks to the information that the local fire department has spread, but they are not in any way, shape, or form a trained firefighter.

It’s not necessarily that a fire buff wants to be a firefighter, either. They just want to support and promote local emergency services. 

Interestingly, although the term buff usually does denote one’s intelligence on a particular subject, it appears that fire buffs by that definition is purely coincidental.

You see, the term fire buff first started in the 20th century. Around that time, fire buffs would be known for appearing on the scenes of fires wearing a trademark fur coat (during the winter only, though).

The coats got the fire buffs nicknamed buffalos, which over the century got abbreviated to just buffs. 

Interested in other unique firefighter knowledge? I wrote an entire article explaining the term jobtown and 8 other unique firefighter terms. Click the link to check it out.

The Benefits of Fire Buffs

Fire buffs are very passionate about their firefighters and their local communities, which can benefits fire departments in a myriad of ways. Let’s take a closer look now.

Earn the Fire Department More Money

Fire buffs will gladly campaign on the part of a fire department and get the word out about a fundraising event. 

It’s still good for the fire department to promote the fundraising event themselves, of course, but free promotion on the part of the fire buffs–especially if they’re part of an organization–is certainly beneficial. 

Fire buffs don’t merely campaign for funds but will also happily and regularly donate to their local fire departments.

It’s always a great feeling to have such avid supporters on your side, especially if your community has an association of fire buffs.

Spread Beneficial Information About Emergency Services

Who do you call in a fire? What do you do? Your local fire buffs know, and they want everyone in the community to know as well.

Whenever a fire department speaks at schools or community events, the fire buffs will promote it. They will also spread the information that the firefighters share among the community so that everyone can be safer. 

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether the information came from a fire buff or the firefighters themselves. If hearing fire safety tips or other basic information can save someone’s life, then it’s all worth it.

Act as Cheerleaders

Being a firefighter is a hard job, and it’s nowhere near as glamorous as television shows and movies make it look. 

Fire buffs can sometimes remind firefighters that it’s all worth it, which makes their job a little easier to do even on those incredibly difficult days. 

The Downsides of Fire Buffs

As helpful as fire buffs can be to a local fire department, we’d be remiss not to mention the downsides of fire buffs, as there are some to be aware of. 

Let’s go over these issues now. 

Can Spread Misinformation

Fire buffs don’t know everything there is to know about fires or fire safety. They listen to what the local fire department says and then spread that information.

However, like a game of telephone, information can get jumbled up even if no one is telling a mistruth. All it takes is one fire buff to mishear something or misinterpret it because they don’t know a lot about fires.

Then, boom, misinformation spreads throughout the community like a fire itself. 

This can come back on the fire department, despite that everything the local firefighters said was wholly accurate and true. 

In reality, it was the fire buffs who misunderstood, but that might not matter. 

The average member of your community probably has no idea what a fire buff even is and wouldn’t want to blame their friend, neighbor, or fellow community member. 

A fire department, if such misinformation ever does become an issue, should do more than clear up misunderstandings among the community. They need to talk to the fire buffs about spreading misinformation as well. 

Show Up to Fires

Even if your local fire buff association is full of sharp-eared people, there’s still another risk of a fire buff’s presence.

A lot of them like to take their support to the next level by witnessing firefighters do their job. 

That’s right. They’ll show up to a burning building, wait for the fire department to arrive, and watch the firefighters at work.

A firefighter doing their thing is extremely impressive, but it’s not like going on a property tour to see behind the scenes.

A fire is an uncontrollable thing. Every time a firefighter goes into a burning building, they do so with the full knowledge that they might not come out again. 

They want the area to be as safe as possible, which means that bystanders of any nature–fire buffs or otherwise–should not be there.

They’re only complicating the firefighter’s job. 

In some instances, a fire buff could even put their own life in danger, making a firefighter work harder to save them as well as the victims in a building that need rescuing. 

Finally, fire buffs are passionate about their local fire departments, which is great. They can spread the word about emergency services, raise funds, and donate money themselves, which is even better.

The real issue with fire buffs is when they try to interject and get involved in real emergencies with their presence.

Since your word as a firefighter matters so much to a fire buff, strongly encourage them not to engage in that sort of behavior.