Resiliency in Firefighters: Using Photovoice to Identify Protective Factors
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Due to high levels of occupational hazards, firefighters are prone to psychological maladaptation, ranging from PTSD to burnout. However, it is not well understood why some firefighters persist in their careers while others choose to leave. In this qualitative study, photovoice as a form of digital storytelling was used to understand the factors of resiliency that may contribute to career persistence. Firefighters (n = 7) in a large, suburban fire department in Colorado contributed photographs and discussed the importance of their chosen photographs through individual, in-depth interviews. Using the theoretical lens of the resiliency portfolio model consisting of self-regulation, interpersonal relationships, and meaning making, analysis revealed subthemes that demonstrated firefighters’ capacity for resiliency. Within self-regulation, three subthemes emerged: adrenaline activities, alcohol, and positive coping. Within interpersonal relationships, two subthemes emerged: work-family and mentoring. Within meaning making, three subthemes became apparent: helping others, legacy, and fatalism. Recommendations for fire departments to enhance the dimensions of resilience are made based on the emergent themes with an emphasis on positive coping skills and mentoring.
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