Well that’s just the ambulance job; A Phenomenological Exploration of how Fire Fighters Experience Emotion and Feeling

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


Research exploring emotion within the fire service predominantly uses quantitative methods to explore burnout and/or PTSD and its antecedents. Less focus is paid to exploring how fire fighters themselves position and experience emotions and feelings whilst doing the job. The current research interviewed 17 male, and 3 female firefighters (n=20). Questions encouraged participants to draw on their own lived experience of how they (and the Fire Service in general) understand and experience emotion and feeling. Using Van Manens methodological perspective as a guide, several clear ‘lifeworld descriptions’ emerged. One persistent contradiction was this suggestion that feeling was something that was ‘natural’ within the person, but also a learnt skill. Interviewees discussed feeling was something that was not within the fire fighter role; they are not ‘trained’ (nor expected) to feel and be emotional, as this would interfere with doing the job effectively. And so consular type work with victims/relatives of victims was not ‘their job’, instead it was passively delegated to other blue light services (i.e. ambulance or police). Doing fire fighting, is an embodied practice, and something that was consistently measured via this ‘surveillance culture’ in operation. Implications for these experiences are discussed in light of the changing nature of the fire fighter role
Period8 Apr 2015
Event titlePsychology of Emotion and Feeling
Event typeConference
Conference number1


  • fire service
  • masculinity
  • emotion
  • feeling
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Phenomenology