Firefighters have always been the true heroes of our society. Why? That’s because they can easily put everyone else’s needs before theirs. 

Recently, a firefighter made a daring rescue and saved the life of a man trapped inside a hanging tractor-trailer on a Kentucky bridge. These professionals usually perform such acts of selflessness and bravery daily. That’s their most admirable trait. 

However, fire service personnel often overlook certain aspects of their lives because of their demanding duties. These include taking care of their mental and physical health, prioritizing their relationships, and more. 

But what are those duties? These include putting out fires, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and providing emergency services. They also undergo regular training and gain extensive technical or medical knowledge for the job. 

In this blog, we will discuss three personal things that firefighters often overlook and compromise on.

#1. Their Overall Health

Exposure to toxins through inhalation, skin contact, and ingestion can sometimes become part of a firefighter’s job. The chemicals that pose a threat to their future health include benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos, and per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS). 

Let’s take the aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) exposure incident to better understand this issue. This fire extinguisher has a highly potent formula to mitigate Class B fuel fires. 

However, AFFF contains harmful per-and-poly-fluorinated substances (PFAS). That’s why continuous exposure to this chemical led firefighters to develop different types of cancer. 

Unfortunately, the manufacturers knew about these health effects but failed to warn the fire departments. Affected individuals went on to file an AFFF foam cancer lawsuit against them. It aims to compensate victims for emotional distress and physical injuries caused by firefighters. 

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According to TorHoerman Law, institutions have taken steps to limit AFFF usage following this litigation. They want to replace AFFF with safer alternatives like fluorine-free foams (F3), water mist systems, and Eco-Gel technology.

Apart from this, fire service personnel are also subjected to emotional trauma daily. On average, 20% of firefighters have had post-traumatic stress disorder at least once in their careers. Moreover, Forbes states that they are more likely to die by suicide than on duty. 

How Can Firefighters Keep Their Health in Check?

Thankfully, there are ways firefighters can keep their physical and mental health in check. These tips include the following: 

  • Wearing safety equipment during operations.
  • Sanitizing their equipment if exposed to chemicals. 
  • Cleaning their bodies after every mission.
  • Being part of personal fitness programs. 
  • Practicing mindfulness and talking to a therapist.

Moreover, regular doctor visits are necessary to prevent long-term hazards from chemical exposure. Every fire service personnel should accurately balance safety, fitness, and relaxation. 

#2. Their Romantic Relationships

Fire service personnel are working in a high-pressure environment that takes a huge toll on their temperament. Hence, they forget to prioritize the things that matter most. 

A Firefighter’s demanding life often includes juggling professional responsibilities and commitments. They work long shifts of up to 24 hours because emergencies can happen at any moment. Due to this, they’re prone to developing stress and burnout. They might also be distant from the people they love after a strenuous workday. 

Similarly, they might not have the energy to put effort into their romantic relationships. But they expect their spouse to make sacrifices and accept their work colleagues as family. 

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All these will make the spouse feel like the ‘second priority’ in the firefighter’s life. That’s why divorce is common in this profession. 

Every time they head home, they’re taking a truckload of trauma and stress with them. Sometimes, firefighters dump their frustrations on their spouses. All these create problems in the relationship and lead to separation

How Can Firefighters Save Their Marriage?

Firefighters need to understand the importance of symbiotic and emotional satisfaction in a marriage. It can only be possible if they can maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

Organizing their priorities will help them allocate specific time slots for tasks. With this, they can avoid overlooking or neglecting their partner’s needs. Every fire service personnel should take time to engage in relaxing activities with their spouses. 

Setting aside dedicated time for personal growth can also help enhance their well-being, strengthen relationships, and foster connections. Moreover, healthy communication can help them take control of their personal lives and reduce negative outcomes. 

#3. Their Safety

In 2023, a firefighter unfortunately fell off a burning building after his vision was impaired by smoke. Another fire service personnel was shot dead after a domestic firing incident. All these instances prove that firefighters don’t think about their safety before performing their duties.

For instance, they often avoid wearing safety gear. That usually happens when they’re pressured into living up to their ‘risk-taking’ image. Reports suggest that public and peer perceptions greatly influence their decision to wear safety equipment. 

They also forget to put on seat belts when responding to a call. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation states that 66% of all fatal crashes involve an unbelted or unrestrained firefighter. Just a few years ago, a volunteer firefighter passed away after being ejected from the rear seat of the department’s pickup truck for not wearing a seatbelt.

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The problem of firefighters not taking proper safety measures stems from the disrupted fire service culture. Unfortunately, society has already accepted that a firefighter’s death is simply part of their ‘job.’ 

How Can Firefighters Ensure Their Safety?

Firefighters need to account for their own safety by wearing proper gear and following protocol. For example, they should depend on apparatus safety, prioritize ventilation, stay aware when on the job, ensure accountability, etc.

The fire department officers also have a great deal of influence over their behavior. Therefore, they can teach fire service personnel to:

  • Focus on preventable behavior by being safe during transit while wearing seatbelts, avoiding overspeeding, etc.
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly to avoid injuries, vision problems, exposure to chemicals, etc.
  • Avoid taking shortcuts to get the job done when helping wounded people or fighting fire. 

In conclusion, every firefighter should be more aware of their safety and health. Maintaining their mental and physical health will help them do their job better and reduce expensive medical bills. Similarly, safety while working is important, especially when they’re running into a burning building. 

Other than these, they should also focus on their relationships to avoid conflicts in their marriage. Oftentimes, firefighters put their work colleagues and job duties before their partners. Regularly doing that will only strain their relationships and lead to miscommunication.

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