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STEM Education

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Book Chapter

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Firefighters are heroes who save lives and protect property. They are highly revered in societies all around the world and perform under the most stressful of conditions. Drawing on literature from the United States (USA), this chapter reviews the culture, demographics and changing mission of the fire service as a backdrop to workplace harassment and bullying issues. The fire service has unique organizational dynamics that can lead to harassment and bullying and, at the same time, are the critical reasons for working to eliminate intentional and unintentional unfair treatment of women and minorities. Recent literature and studies show that the battle to eradicate harassment and bullying is far from over. More women than men perceived differential treatment based on gender, race and sexual orientation. Moreover, more women than men have reported ill-fitting equipment issues in multiple studies. Recommended solutions include ensuring harassment and bullying are not tolerated by verifying all know that a policy exists and how to follow it. Fire stations should be designed to ensure women have separate sleeping quarters and showers, which afford privacy. Fire station leadership should also ensure firefighting equipment issued to its members fit (to include female-sized equipment and turnout gear) so that firefighters have confidence that the equipment will protect them while they save others. The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) has taken steps to identify areas of bullying and discrimination and is working diligently to enforce and develop effective strategies to mitigate these issues. Future research should include continued studies of the US fire service as well as studies of non-US fire services. Additional research should also focus on the effects of bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination on bystanders and volunteer firefighters.

Publication Title

Handbooks of Workplace Bullying, Emotional Abuse and Harassment



Springer, Singapore