Whether you’ve been a firefighter for decades or you’re the new kid on the block, everyone knows that being a firefighter is dangerous. Firefighters face challenges and hazards every day, and it takes a special person to accept that duty for the sake of their community. Everyone knows that firefighters face physical harm when responding to an emergency, but there are other complicated, critical issues facing firefighters. Read on to learn more.
Mental Health and Relationships
Firefighters experience trauma, pain, and immense pressure day in and day out, which takes a toll on their mental health. An increasing number of firefighters struggle with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders as a by-product of the reality of their career. As if the mental health challenges weren’t bad enough, these challenges also get in the way of friendships, family, and marriages. If you’re a firefighter struggling with mental health, know that it’s okay to ask for help because if you’re struggling, your colleagues probably are too.
Although everyone (including local governments) understands the importance of firefighters and the dangers they face, the average salary for a firefighter is well below what they deserve. Local, city, and state governments as well as communities must work together and demand that public safety officials are compensated appropriately.
Long-Term Health Issues
The leading cause of firefighter fatalities doesn’t occur at the emergency site; it’s after the fact—often years after the fact. Cancer and heart disease are among the most serious (yet common) health problems among firefighters. Although there’s no guarantee that firefighters can avoid cancer altogether, you can significantly reduce the risks by wearing PPE properly. Unfortunately, there’s a surprising amount of fire stations that still provide outdated or worn-out PPE to firefighters. If your turnout gear has tears or stains, it’s vital that you encourage your station to invest in quality PPE for the health and safety of the crew.
Many people don’t realize the critical issues facing firefighters expand well beyond the emergency scene. As a firefighter, you experience the unimaginable almost every day. The average person wouldn’t last a day in your boots. It’s crucial that you take care of yourself physically and mentally so you can live a long and healthy life. Take care of yourself by always wearing your protective gear and by seeking professional help if you need it.