Psychological consequences of firefighters' working conditions: A Qualitative Study
Introduction: A high-risk job, firefighting involves a wide range of tasks. Given the difficult nature of the job with all the responsibilities included, and in addition to the impending physical injuries, firefighters undergo several emergencies which can endanger their psychological health. Therefore, the present study was conducted to investigate the psychological consequences of firefighters' work conditions.
Materials and Methods: The research method was qualitative and phenomenological. Using the purposeful sampling method, 16 firefighters were selected from fire stations across the city of Kerman, Iran; saturation criteria were used in the selection of participants. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analyzed using Colaizzi’s seven-step method. In this way, first, the interviews were coded, and then based on the similarity of codes, 4 main categories were extracted.
Results: results showed that persistent stress (caused by the sound of fire alarms and announcement of fire emergencies, trying to make it to the scene on time, worrying about not being on time, and not finding the address of the incidents, complications, and uncertainties of the incidents), sleep problems (these include sleep disturbances, insomnia, difficulty maintaining sleep, startled waking up, somniloquy), negative emotions reminiscent of painful events, and difficulty in establishing good relationships with family members, are the most important psychological consequences that firefighters faced due to their working conditions.
Conclusion: Considering the important role of firefighters in providing services in emergencies, the psychological consequences of this job are risk factors that harm the health and the performance of firefighters. Therefore, appropriate measures and planning need to be taken to manage and reduce ongoing stress and improve the quality of firefighters' sleep. To manage and reduce negative emotions and their family problems, appropriate training should be provided.