Firefighters have levels of stress that most of us cannot even fathom. Part of that comes from the sheer unpredictability of the job. They never know from literally minute to minute what they will be called upon to do – be at the scene of a fatal car wreck, put out a fire in a residential building, go to a manufacturing plant where there might be toxic fumes from a chemical blaze or rush to another traumatic scene where lives are in the balance.
Many situations that firefighters find themselves in are dangerous. Being in a burning building is incredibly treacherous. Roofs and stairs can give way all of a sudden with firefighters on or near them. Older or poorly maintained structures pose their own hazards. Climbing up tall ladders to save a person who is dangling from a window pleading to be rescued is perilous. There is not a moment to squander because each second is precious when someone desperately needs life-saving help.
What other circumstances can cause firefighters intense stress?
Firefighters work very hard for the best possible outcomes. Sadly, that is not always attainable. People die in fires or sustain grievous injuries. When children lose their lives, the memory of such tragedies is indelible. Firefighters don’t just head home at the end of their shift and forget that. It stays with them for days, weeks or even years.
They also witness their hard-working, dedicated colleagues being hurt on the job. Those people are their friends. Watching them be felled by smoke inhalation, burns or falling debris is also something no one ever gets used to.
Furthermore, their sleeping and mealtimes constantly get interrupted because they instantly have to race to emergencies. Time spent with their families can be disrupted, too.
Does a firefighter dealing with extreme stress qualify for workers’ compensation?
It’s a given that firefighting is a highly stressful profession. To make a successful workers’ compensation claim, you might need to indicate that stress has directly affected you in serious ways – substance abuse problems, mental or emotional issues, diabetes, PTSD, weight gain, high blood pressure or depression. You might want to talk with a person familiar with workers’ compensation to help you receive what you are entitled to.