Large-scale study of sustainable employability of firefighters

The work of fire department employees is recognized worldwide as having high physical, mental and emotional demands. In the Netherlands too, both employers and (representatives of) employees recognize that firefighters face high physical, mental and emotional demands in their work. This therefore raises the question of how men and women in the repressive fire department function can be employed in a sustainable way, how they can continue to perform their work throughout their career while maintaining good health, well-being and productivity? With a large-scale survey of over 25,000 firefighters, Maastricht University is investigating what are impeding and promoting factors. The name SEmFire, which stands for Sustainable Employability Firefighters, was coined for this research.

Joint Responsibility

Employer and employee parties have once again determined that it is a joint responsibility to have firefighters safely healthy and productive in their firefighting careers and in their working lives towards retirement.

In order to be able to create good conditions for the sustainable employability of fire department employees in the future, it is of the utmost importance to gain a well-founded insight into the strain and burden of the work. Previous research has not yet produced sufficient knowledge for this. At the request of both employers and (representatives of) employees, new research is being carried out in which new insights and changing circumstances in repressive work will also be included.

The client for this study is the Employers' Association of Collaborating Safety Regions (WVSV). The research is being conducted by a team from the research programme Labour Epidemiology, School CAPHRI, Maastricht University. The research is led by Prof. Dr. IJmert Kant and Dr. Nicole Jansen.

Large-scale survey

Since May 31, the phased invitation to participate in this study has been extended to more than 25,000 fire department employees (professional and volunteer fire department employees) from all 25 safety regions.  The participants in the study will be followed up for two years by means of questionnaires. Only in this way can the various forms and degree of workload and its influence on sustainable employability be properly investigated for both professional and volunteer fire departments. The first descriptive results of this study are expected to be available in the autumn of 2022.