Addressing Confrontation in Firefighting

The firefighting profession is one that can be emotional and stressful. From burn victims to cleaning up after a natural disaster, first responders see and feel various traumatic events on any given call. It’s crucial for fire professionals and their leaders to know how to identify the source of their feelings and mitigate them as much and as quickly as possible before they turn into a full-blown emotional crisis. One way that emotions can get the best of firefighters is through intra-departmental conflict with their peers. Addressing confrontation in firefighting is a proactive and straightforward way to minimize tensions and resolve issues in the workplace.

Stress takes a significant toll on all firefighters. The PTSD rate among firefighters hovers around 20 percent as far as the number of professionals affected by a traumatic event. This is well above the national average for adults, which comes in about seven percent. This can come to a head by way of emotional blowups, depression, and infighting among co-workers.

Understanding the factors behind conflict and its reasoning helps firefighters make informed and educated assessments and evaluations of how to handle conflict situations best regardless of their character. Here’s a better look at conflict among firefighters and how to resolve it.

Looking Inward

An essential first step for firefighters in resolving conflict is to see what factors may have caused these problems. From asking yourself what role you played to looking back at communication problems to considering all influences of a conflict, there are ways to reflect and resolve issues without having to meet.

If you see conflict as being one-sided, then ego will be an ongoing adversary in communications. However, if you can see where you contributed to the problem in any way, such as communication style or choice of words, then you’ve already situated yourself to resolve an issue better. 

Bring It Up

Another step to resolve conflict is to seek counsel from a friend, peer, or leader in the department. An issue might be smaller than it appears, and just bouncing some quick facts off someone may help see things from a different perspective. However, it’s crucial to not only look for a sounding board and someone who will agree with you, like a dedicated friend. It’s vital to find an unbiased person in the department who can help provide honest insight and perspective. While it’s normal to want to be right in a conflict situation, it helps to find help from someone straightforward and unbiased.

Finding Peace Together

The next step to resolve an issue within the department is to go to a leader and request they put together a time to talk among all parties involved.

At a meeting, tension may still be present, as well as the urge to attack, blame, and be stubborn. This is where both parties, or all parties involved, need to take ownership and be encouraged to demonstrate some humility. By opening up the floor for discussion and listening to both sides, the facts are being made public to get a clearer picture and help leaders come to a positive result.

Fire officers and their employees need to have a keen eye for stress and conflict and address them as efficiently as possible. This encourages honesty and integrity among firefighters and encourages them to lean on conflict resolution moving forward.

About Provident Fire Plus

At Provident Fire Plus, we offer custom-tailored packages to best protect firefighters and volunteer firefighters. We understand the risks that emergency response teams are subjected to on a daily basis, and have worked to serve these dedicated professionals for over 87 years. For more information about our products and policies, we invite you to contact our experts today at (855) 201-8880.