Situational pressures that influence firefighters' decision making about personal protective equipment: A qualitative analysis

Michael A. Maglio, Cliff Scott, Andrea L. Davis, Joseph Allen, Jennifer A. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Firefighters are exposed to hazardous conditions as a result of their occupation and often understand the dangers of these toxic exposures; yet, it remains unclear why some refrain from wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) in dangerous situations. We were intrigued by the gap between demonstrated safety knowledge and lack of connection to observed or self-reported safety behaviors, an issue about which there is limited consensus among scholars. Methods: In a national study of fire service safety climate, 123 firefighters across 12 fire departments participated in 62 interviews and 10 focus groups. Results: Firefighter identity, goal seduction, and situation aversion were the strongest factors of PPE non-compliance, whereas PPE empowerment and individual will promoted PPE use within a fire department. Conclusions: Understanding situations where PPE use is both practiced and neglected is imperative to improving fire service safety culture. Peerpressure and leading by example at the peer and organizational levels appear to be essential considerations firefighters undertake when choosing whether or not to engage in safety behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-567
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Behavior
Volume40
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2016

Keywords

  • Decision making
  • Firefighter
  • Identity
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Safety climate
  • Situational pressures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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