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Article
Publication date: 8 December 2020

Leigh McCarley Blaney, David Wilde and Rowena Hill

The purpose of this paper is to present a theory of psychological resilience in volunteer firefighters.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a theory of psychological resilience in volunteer firefighters.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a constructivist grounded theory (CGT) approach, the qualitative study engaged a purposive sample of eight firefighters in Canada, conducted in-depth interviews and analysed the data using comparative methods.

Findings

The results provided unique insights into resilience in firefighters and revealing resilience as multidimensional, complex, dynamic and contextual. Six core concepts interrelate to construct resilience: relationships, personal resources, meaning-making, leadership, culture and knowledge.

Practical implications

The findings of this research offer a framework for practical integration of resilience theory into workplace health policy and practice. The theory was co-created with firefighters hence is contextually sound to this population, but applicable to other emergency and health services.

Originality/value

Volunteer firefighters are under-represented in the literature, despite facing intermittent and frequently intense work-related stressors; this research begins to address the gap in the literature. As well, previous resilience theories have noted relationships between some components, but there is little evidence linking categories; this theory more patently represents the complex nature of resilience in volunteer firefighters.

Details

International Journal of Emergency Services, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2047-0894

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Article
Publication date: 27 August 2020

Emelie Lantz and Marcus Runefors

The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of literature about recruitment, retention and resignation among non-career firefighters.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of literature about recruitment, retention and resignation among non-career firefighters.

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic review was conducted to identify factors associated with the recruitment, retention and resignation of non-career firefighters. The authors divided the results into three topics and four levels for further analysis.

Findings

27 articles are included in the review. Most research addresses retention at an organizational level and indicates a link between job satisfaction and factors such as supervisor support, recognition and close relationships within the workgroup. Further, a recurring reason that contributes to resignations seems to be family related (e.g. partner disapproval).

Research limitations/implications

There is a lack of European and Asian research into non-career firefighters. The included research papers generally have low response rates and the sample is often mostly male and Caucasians from a limited area.

Practical implications

The identified factors offer deeper understanding and can help practitioners in their pursuit of the sustainable retention of non-career firefighters.

Originality/value

Because securing adequate numbers of non-career firefighters is important, there is a need to synthesize current evidence to identify and further understand which factors contribute to retention. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first systematic review to synthesize such evidence about non-career firefighters.

Details

International Journal of Emergency Services, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2047-0894

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Article
Publication date: 11 August 2020

Rowena Hill, Eva Sundin and Belinda Winder

Traditionally, research exploring the work–family interface has focussed on two perspectives: the organisation and the employee. The third perspective of the family has…

Abstract

Purpose

Traditionally, research exploring the work–family interface has focussed on two perspectives: the organisation and the employee. The third perspective of the family has been largely neglected. This has also been the case with emergency responders. Arguably, the social support that emergency responders receive from their families maintains the health and well-being of the emergency responders. There has been more literature focussing on family members of police and ambulance staff, but less is known about the experiences of the families of firefighters. This study, therefore, aims to explore the occupation-related consequences for families of firefighters to establish what could be done to preserve this important source of social support.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative approach was needed to understand the perspective of relatives of firefighters. Grounded theory was used to analyse interviews of family members of firefighters.

Findings

Important concepts to families of firefighters include the management of emotional contagion from their firefighter, their sophisticated perceptions of physical and emotional risk, their ability to make things work around a satellite family member, detail of the sacrifices they make and the social support from other firefighters' families.

Research limitations/implications

The findings highlight the rich understanding and benefits offered when fire and rescue services and researchers consider the family perspective of the work–family interface within this context to develop a rich supportive dynamic between the organisation, the employee and their family.

Practical implications

Findings from this study are considered to inform the development of a positive resource ecology within fire and rescue services. Where work-family enrichment positively informs the interventions and practical approaches organisations can use to enhance the wellbeing of their employees, by acknowledging other life domains.

Originality/value

The contribution to theoretical perspectives on the work–family interface, as well as the informed understanding of occupational consequences of the firefighting occupation on relatives, offers a unique contribution to the literature.

Details

International Journal of Emergency Services, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2047-0894

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Article
Publication date: 19 March 2020

Vanessa Laureys and Marleen Easton

The purpose of this study is to explore the empirical literature on the resilience of firefighters related to potentially traumatic events (PTE). This paper identifies how…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to explore the empirical literature on the resilience of firefighters related to potentially traumatic events (PTE). This paper identifies how resilience is defined in this particular research field, reveals trends in applied research methods and examines the main topics addressed in previous research.

Design/methodology/approach

Web of Science, PsycARTICLES and Google Scholar databases were searched, as well as a secondary manual screening of the reference lists of all the selected studies and Dutch academic journals. Based on this review, 54 empirical articles were included in the current paper.

Findings

Firstly, this paper revealed that there is no consensus in how to define the concept of resilience in this specific research area. A second observation was that most of the selected studies used a quantitative, cross-sectional research design. Finally, the 54 empirical studies provided insights on six topics: the role of the organization, demographic factors, personal characteristics, coping strategies, social support and the reactions of firefighters in the aftermath of PTE. Comparing the empirical results was challenged by the different interpretations and denominations of the concept of resilience and the myriad of measurement techniques applied across the selected articles.

Originality/value

This literature review discovered some promising avenues for future research regarding resilience of firefighters. Moreover, it demonstrated that studying resilience is particularly interesting as the identification of supporting factors leads to a better understanding of how to enhance the well-being, job satisfaction and job performance of firefighters.

Details

International Journal of Emergency Services, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2047-0894

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Article
Publication date: 4 May 2020

Rebecca Rose Conway and Sara Waring

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…

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.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

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Article
Publication date: 31 October 2019

Anna Abelsson

The purpose of this paper is to describe firefighters’ experiences of first response emergency care.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe firefighters’ experiences of first response emergency care.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses an explorative descriptive design with a qualitative approach. Data were collected through group interviews of 35 firefighters and subjected to qualitative content analysis.

Findings

The results showed that the professional role and the firemen’s uniform serve as a protection against psychologically strenuous situations. To protect the dignity of the injured or dead is important as well as protecting and safeguarding each other from the experience of the tragedy of an accident. Having a solid, sterling medical education provides a sense of security in the emergency care, as well as when caring for the relatives. Debriefing brings thoughts and feelings to the surface for processing and closure. The feeling of sadness lingers for the people not being saveable, that had been dead on arrival or the ones forgotten.

Originality/value

A firefighter’s work situation is exposed and stressful. The firemen’s uniform as a mental barrier, colleagues, time to mentally prepare and to be allowed to show feelings are all needed to cope. It is, therefore, important to encourage, promote and strengthen the protective role of camaraderie for the firefighter, which probably can be emphasized in other uniform-wearing professions such as police, military and ambulance. Being acknowledged for their contribution to other peoples’ lives and well-being can acknowledge the firefighters’ importance.

Details

International Journal of Emergency Services, vol. 8 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2047-0894

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 3 June 2019

Meredith McQuerry, Cassandra Kwon and Heather Johnson

The purpose of this paper is to identify the challenging barriers faced by female firefighters, which limit workplace entrance and performance.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify the challenging barriers faced by female firefighters, which limit workplace entrance and performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Occupational barriers from both psychological and physiological viewpoints were explored based on previous literature and the reported experiences of female firefighters.

Findings

A comprehensive review of literature synthesizes previous studies pertaining to gender anthropometric differences, female firefighters’ experiences in the work environment and protective clothing issues. The physical capabilities of men and women in specific relation to performing firefighting activities are also examined. Issues of greatest concern are identified for personal protective clothing (PPC) and equipment, which have traditionally been designed for the male human form. This leads to a lack of protection, an increased risk of onsite injury, reduction in mobility and poorer comfort for female firefighters.

Originality/value

This review provides an original overview of the critical workplace challenges faced by female firefighters. The need for female-specific PPC and equipment is specifically addressed to retain the growing number of women entering the male-dominated firefighting profession.

Details

Research Journal of Textile and Apparel, vol. 23 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1560-6074

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Article
Publication date: 20 November 2019

Shannon Wagner and Romana Pasca

The purpose of this paper is to examine the contribution of work to self-reported mental health symptoms in fire service members.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the contribution of work to self-reported mental health symptoms in fire service members.

Design/methodology/approach

In 2004, the first wave of this data collection was completed with all members of a fire department in a small northern center in British Columbia. The members completed a series of questionnaires measuring mental health, personality and satisfaction. Since 2004, all recruit members entering the department have also completed the same set of questionnaires shortly after hiring. Subsequently, in 2016–2017, the full sample, including recruit members, were invited to complete the Wave 2 data collection cycle, which included a set of questionnaires very similar to that collected in Wave 1.

Findings

The recruit sample reported significantly fewer mental health symptoms, as compared to career firefighters, at Time 1 (prior to workplace exposure). However, at Time 2 (after workplace exposure), no difference between the groups was evident.

Research limitations/implications

It is possible that recruit firefighters reported more positive mental health because of social desirability bias upon beginning a new job.

Practical implications

These results suggest that service as a firefighter could potentially have an impact on mental health and efforts should be made to mitigate this impact.

Originality/value

To the authors’ knowledge, the current research is the first study that has followed recruit firefighters longitudinally in an effort to prospectively evaluate the impact of workplace exposure on mental health.

Details

International Journal of Emergency Services, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2047-0894

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Article
Publication date: 5 August 2019

Laurie Gazzale

The purpose of this paper is to explore the connection between motivation and the continued commitment of volunteer firefighters.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the connection between motivation and the continued commitment of volunteer firefighters.

Design/methodology/approach

This research using a phenomenological approach compares the lived experiences of 17 firefighters from five volunteer fire companies, seeking common themes leading to their longevity with the fire service.

Findings

There are commonalities in the reasons the participants joined and remained active in the fire service despite the many hours of ongoing training and commitment and disruptions to their personal lives.

Research limitations/implications

The study focused on firefighters in north central New Jersey and the results might not apply to volunteer firefighters in other regions. The rewards of being a firefighter need to be stressed. The importance of contribution to community early in the firefighter’s career and the evolution to the role of teacher, mentor and protector of other members over time are roles new recruits and existing members identify with that are the core to firefighter commitment.

Practical implications

The findings identify four themes: commitment and giving back to the community, comradery, altruism, and the relationships with family and friends that initially brought the volunteers to their fire company. The findings suggest the importance of these values and the potential to apply them in retaining firefighters.

Social implications

Evidence suggests that there are distinct reasons that individuals are attracted to the fire service and specific fire companies. Evidence also suggests that the role played by family members influences the level of activity of the volunteer firefighter.

Originality/value

This factor provides evidence behind the motivations of firefighters of diverse ages and backgrounds leading to their commitment to the fire service and their role as volunteer firefighters.

Details

International Journal of Emergency Services, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2047-0894

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Article
Publication date: 20 April 2015

Huiju Park, Helen Trejo, Madeline Miles, Allison Bauer, Seonyoung Kim and Jeffrey Stull

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the incremental impact of firefighter’s personal protective equipment (PPE) on lower body range of motion (ROM) while walking…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the incremental impact of firefighter’s personal protective equipment (PPE) on lower body range of motion (ROM) while walking to suggest areas of design improvement for enhanced mobility and safety.

Design/methodology/approach

Eight male and four female firefighters participated in the study. Lower body ROM was assessed while they walked in four different configurations of PPE, including turnout ensemble, a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and boots. The impact of each added PPE item, and gender differences were statistically analyzed.

Findings

Wearing firefighter turnout ensemble and SCBA reduced ROM in the lower body in the sagittal and transverse planes. A significant reduction in ROM for anterior-posterior movement at the ankle and the ball of the foot was found while wearing rubber boots with turnout ensemble and SCBA. This puts firefighters at higher risk of experiencing foot injuries and physical strains. A significant increase in medial-lateral movement of the foot while wearing rubber boots may increase risk of ankle sprains. A greater reduction in ROM at the ankle and the ball of the foot for female firefighters may imply greater risk for women compared to men, while wearing boots.

Practical implications

Reducing the inflexibility and bulkiness of boots is critical to improve firefighter’s lower body mobility and safety.

Originality/value

This study implemented 3-D motion capture technology to analyze how wearing firefighting gear impacted lower body motion. It provides quantitative evidence to recommend ergonomic boot re-design.

Details

International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, vol. 27 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0955-6222

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