Project: Occupation-specific Psychosocial hazards and burnout among older fire fighters


This project was submitted on 03/07/2014

Background: Until 2004 the compulsory retirement age for UK firefighters was 55 years. Changes to pension arrangements will result in many firefighters working beyond this point in the future, resulting in possible increased exposure to psychosocial hazards. The psychosocial hazards experienced by ageing firefighters remain unclear, as does the burnout profile of this group. Information in this regard could usefully inform policies to promote the workability of older firefighters.

Aims: To profile and examine relations between exposure to occupation-specific psychosocial hazards and burnout in older firefighters.

Method: Two focus groups involving firefighters aged 40≥ were conducted to identify psychosocial issues perceived as problematic. Transcripts were thematic analysed to inform the content of a bespoke measure of occupation-specific psychosocial hazards. This was administered alongside the Maslach Burnout Inventory to all firefighters aged 40≥ in a county fire and rescue service. Bivariate correlations examined relations between psychosocial hazard exposures and burnout.

Results: The focus groups identified five categories of psychosocial hazard: job demands, fitness and health, work-life balance, management support and peer support. 112 firefighters (45% response rate) completed the questionnaire. All respondents were male and ranged in age from 40 to 62 (M = 46.46; SD = 4.29). The mean score on each burnout dimension was substantially below that found in normative data, suggesting a low degree of burnout in the current study. Significant correlations of moderate strength (between .3 and .49) were found between burnout and reports of eight psychosocial hazards.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the psychosocial work environment might have important implications for the health of older firefighters. Longitudinal studies are required to examine cause-effect relations between these variables, the results of which could usefully inform risk management activities to promote the health and productivity of older firefighters.

Excess working hours, Fatigue , Musculoskeletal disorders, Occupational health & wellbeing, Policies, Risk management, Stress and mental health

Organisation: University of Nottingham

Nottingham ,
NG7 2RD,
0115 951 5151

Principal Investigator: Tracey Mitchell

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