A researcher at Nottingham Trent University is launching the first UK-wide study of families of firefighters to investigate the importance of psychological support provided by families.

Rowena Hill is part of the Emergency Services Research Unit within the Division of Psychology and has been researching with the emergency services for the past 10 years. She said that "our previous research has shown that a key feature of firefighters wellbeing is that they receive significant support from their families, if we can learn more about the secrets of this positive influence maybe we could start to think about how to encourage this in different  situations to increase resillence in others."

Families of firefighters will be asked to respond to an anonymous online survey as part of the project, which will also consider data from the USA and Canada.

The online survey is open now and runs until 3 March and is aimed at families of full time firefighters, part time firefighters, flexi-duty officers, community/auxiliary firefighters, retained firefighters or operational managers of a fire service.

Rowena added: "All our previous research has concluded that firefighters do not always recognise that families offer this sophisticated support, but families can quickly tell not only what type of day their firefighter has had, but where any challenges have come from; they can tell if it was a complex incident, a large scale incident or an incident that was long and protracted, all within seconds of their firefighter walking through the door after being at work.

"Not only can they understand why their firefighter feels drained or low, but they then know what coping strategy their firefighter needs to engage in to recover and they facilitate that activity. Some families can even tell where incidents happened in the firefighter’s previous experience due to their observation of tiny alterations in the firefighter’s behaviour which they do not realise they are doing. This kind of positive support enables a resilient group of firefighters to stay emotionally healthy more easily than if the families did not provide it."

For more information visit www.fireservicefamilies.com and Rowena will also be discussing her research at the Fire Fighter's Charity clinical forum on Jan 3.

Posted 13/12/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com