Sound the alarm: health and safety risks associated with alarm response for salaried and retained metropolitan firefighters

Paterson, Jessica L., Aisbett, Brad and Ferguson, Sally A. 2016, Sound the alarm: health and safety risks associated with alarm response for salaried and retained metropolitan firefighters, Safety science, vol. 82, pp. 174-181, doi: 10.1016/j.ssci.2015.09.024.

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Title Sound the alarm: health and safety risks associated with alarm response for salaried and retained metropolitan firefighters
Author(s) Paterson, Jessica L.
Aisbett, BradORCID iD for Aisbett, Brad
Ferguson, Sally A.
Journal name Safety science
Volume number 82
Start page 174
End page 181
Total pages 8
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2016-02
ISSN 0925-7535
Keyword(s) Science & Technology
Engineering, Industrial
Operations Research & Management Science
Alarm response
Emergency services
Sleep inertia
Summary Responding to an emergency alarm poses a significant risk to firefighters' health and safety, particularly to cardiovascular health, physical and psychological stress, and fatigue. These risks have been largely categorised for salaried firefighters working 'on station'. Less is known about the factors that contribute to these risks for the vast number of non-salaried personnel who serve in retained roles, often deploying from home. The present study investigated the alarm response procedure for Australian metropolitan fire fighters, identifying common and divergent sources of risk for salaried and retained staff. There were significant differences in procedure between the two workgroups and this resulted in differences in risk profile between groups. Sleep and fatigue, actual response to the alarm stimulus, work-life balance and trauma emerged as sources of risk experienced differently by salaried and retained firefighters. Key findings included reports of fatigue in both groups, but particularly in the case of retained firefighters who manage primary employment as well as their retained position. This also translated into a poor sense of work-life balance. Both groups reported light sleep, insufficient sleep or fragmented sleep as a result of alarm response. In the case of salaried firefighters, this was associated with being woken on station when other appliances are called. There were risks from physical and psychological responses to the alarm stimulus, and reports of sleep inertia when driving soon after waking. The findings of this study highlight the common and divergent risks for these workgroups, and could be used in the ongoing management of firefighters' health and safety.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.ssci.2015.09.024
Field of Research 110699 Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified
09 Engineering
11 Medical And Health Sciences
17 Psychology And Cognitive Sciences
Socio Economic Objective 929999 Health not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, Elsevier
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