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Facilitators and barriers to developing firefighter resilience

Rebecca Rose Conway (Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)
Sara Waring (Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 4 May 2020

Issue publication date: 8 July 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

Developing resilience is vital for firefighters and other practitioners exposed to trauma as part of their day-to-day work in maintaining physical and mental resilience. However, further understanding of what factors facilitate and hinder the development of firefighter resilience and why is needed. The current study evaluates efficacy of support mechanisms currently in place and develops an evidence base for interventions to support development of firefighter resilience.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 firefighters from across two regions in the United Kingdom, the Northwest and Southeast of England. Thematic analysis was used to analyse transcripts, highlighting themes within, and across, services to identify what factors affect development of firefighter resilience and why.

Findings

Thematic analysis highlighted four key themes shared by firefighters across regions: “informal support”, “formal support”, “basic welfare measures” and “trust”. Importantly, how effective formal measures are perceived to be and the willingness for firefighters to access these resources was dependent upon the level of trust held in senior management. Firefighters across locations highlighted levels of trust were affected by industrial actions which created divides. Accordingly, one way firefighter resilience may be further promoted is by altering how formal support mechanisms are accessed.

Originality/value

Although existing research has found factors which promote resilience of firefighters, evaluation of specific services is lacking. The current research highlights areas among two UK services where resilience is effectively being promoted and areas for potential improvement.

Keywords

Citation

Conway, R.R. and Waring, S. (2021), "Facilitators and barriers to developing firefighter resilience", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 327-339. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-06-2018-0186

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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