Work–family enrichment of firefighters: "satellite family members", risk, trauma and family functioning

Hill, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-2938-8825, Sundin, E. ORCID: 0000-0001-7490-035X and Winder, B. ORCID: 0000-0002-9118-679X, 2020. Work–family enrichment of firefighters: "satellite family members", risk, trauma and family functioning. International Journal of Emergency Services, 9 (3), pp. 395-407. ISSN 2047-0894

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Purpose: Traditionally, research exploring the work–family interface has focussed on two perspectives: the organisation and the employee. The third perspective of the family has been largely neglected. This has also been the case with emergency responders. Arguably, the social support that emergency responders receive from their families maintains the health and well-being of the emergency responders. There has been more literature focussing on family members of police and ambulance staff, but less is known about the experiences of the families of firefighters. This study, therefore, aims to explore the occupation-related consequences for families of firefighters to establish what could be done to preserve this important source of social support.

Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative approach was needed to understand the perspective of relatives of firefighters. Grounded theory was used to analyse interviews of family members of firefighters.

Findings: Important concepts to families of firefighters include the management of emotional contagion from their firefighter, their sophisticated perceptions of physical and emotional risk, their ability to make things work around a satellite family member, detail of the sacrifices they make and the social support from other firefighters' families.

Research limitations/implications: The findings highlight the rich understanding and benefits offered when fire and rescue services and researchers consider the family perspective of the work–family interface within this context to develop a rich supportive dynamic between the organisation, the employee and their family.

Practical implications: Findings from this study are considered to inform the development of a positive resource ecology within fire and rescue services. Where work-family enrichment positively informs the interventions and practical approaches organisations can use to enhance the wellbeing of their employees, by acknowledging other life domains.

Originality/value: The contribution to theoretical perspectives on the work–family interface, as well as the informed understanding of occupational consequences of the firefighting occupation on relatives, offers a unique contribution to the literature.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: International Journal of Emergency Services
Creators: Hill, R., Sundin, E. and Winder, B.
Publisher: Emerald
Date: 11 August 2020
Volume: 9
Number: 3
ISSN: 2047-0894
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 08 Sep 2020 12:39
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:17

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