Firefighting is one of the most stressful occupations. Not everyone can easily cope with it.
That’s not to say that every day is stressful, or that every call is stress inducing.
Obviously, some emergencies are more stressful than others, but there are other stresses than those encountered that are unrelated to firefighter calls.
For example, can you handle the long shifts required of professional firefighters? Maybe it’s fine when you’re young, but working around-the-clock shifts can be stressful on your home and family life as your life evolves.
How well do you deal with difficult people? Like it or not, you may have to deal with stress from coworkers or poor leadership. Obviously this type of stress is pertinent to any occupation that requires interaction with people and management. However, as a firefighter, it’s possible that you may be spending much more time with a challenging personality than you might in any other work role. Working long hours with difficult people can make the very task of going to work stressful.
Firefighter Stress and Health
There are various health issues that are encountered by firefighters, but one under-recognized problem that those who are not firefighters may not have heard about is sleep deprivation. Studies show that a large percentage of firefighters are routinely sleep deprived. An ongoing lack of quality sleep can contribute to physical and mental issues that contribute to stress as well as other negative implications, such as mood swings, poor decisions, frequent accidents and poor decision making.
Bad Firefighter Calls
Finally, there is the reality of bad calls. Firefighters encounter some of the most tragic ways that people of all ages encounter harm and death. How will you react to sights and sounds that are unimaginable to most citizens? Such individual experiences can create high stress. Further, the accumulation of stressful experiences can impact one emotionally and physically.
Dealing With Firefighter Stress
Having said that, many fire departments have different levels of personal support in place: from peer teams to formal debriefs. However, firefighters are often able to cope with job stress by simply talking things out within their crew, or perhaps by making rude jokes, and/or just resolving some way to move on.
Stress is part of any job. Firefighters may have to contend with more than their fair share. The question posed for this article is how well would you deal with it?