How Firefighting Affects the Family at Home

There are many families holding on by a thread, coping with the lifestyle of firefighting. One pervasive challenge that first responders and firefighters have to deal with is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The lifestyle of emergency response personnel, while obviously very difficult for the responders themselves, can also be very hard on families. Families deal with the fear that their firefighter could be seriously injured or, worse, die in the line of duty. There is also the challenge of helping them through bouts of stress, trauma, and illness brought on by the demands of the job.

Conflicting Realities

Within the unique lifestyle that comes with firefighting, families must adjust to the irregular work hours that go hand-in-hand with the job. Feeling of abandonment is common. Relationships sometimes reach a breaking point, and forced alter things to even have time for each other.

The other partner is often left in the role of being somewhat of a single parent and head of the household. Firefighters regularly miss out on special events and are unable to make firm plans with friends and family. There is also a sense of isolation created when the non-firefighter partner witnesses the special family-like closeness within the fire and rescue team yet work-related details can never be discussed in their own home.

The impacts are dramatically different when both people in a partnership are firefighters. They often have household problems such as arranging childcare. If they serve different days to have at least one parent at home, this means they never get to see each other during their days off. They may also hesitate to respond to the same calls for fear of injury or death of both parents at the same time.

Coping and Support Resources

When first adjusting to anything new, sharing struggles, trials, errors, and successes is crucial. Families should reach out to members of other families who were struggling with the same problems to find empathy in community, where people could share stories and advice. For relatives, practicing emotional and spiritual management is recommended. It is common for spouses to feel angry, resentful, disappointed, and fearful for the life of their loved one.

Families should create and join fire department programs that give them insight into what the job entails. As a firefighting operation, this is something that you can do to improve the overall health and wellbeing of the members of your team. Develop and participate in training programs for line-of-duty death preparedness to help themselves cope should the worst ever happen in their own family and to be a form of support for other families. Promote and participate in workshops and programs for community risk reduction and fire prevention. This encourages appreciation for the work and sacrifice of those in the fire service. Additionally, provide support systems for firefighters or their loved ones who have difficulty communicating their anxieties, and provide them with the means to communicate and work through their own stressors.

Social support systems and friends play a key role in being there for firefighters and their loved ones.The ones who seem the most affected are those who have no family support and no other emotional outlets. It is critical to have support groups, and to do what you can to reduce the risk of your team members and their loved ones


About Provident FirePlus

At Provident FirePlus, 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 (800) 447-0360.