Firefighter fatigue: how a spike in fires can take a mental toll on firefighters

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria fire department crews said they’ve seen an increase in fires over the past few months. While this may not be unordinary as season transition, it can still take a mental and physical toll on firefighters.

“We’re spread more thin than we have been in the past,” said Jim Bachman, Assistant Fire Chief at the Peoria Fire Department. “When we have 14 pieces of fire apparatus to operate in the city and 6 of them– 7 of them– are on a working fire, it can get pretty hectic.”

Battalion Chief Ralph Phillips has been a firefighter for 27 years.

“Sleep deprivation is a real thing,” Phillips said, “and it takes a toll on your body over time.”

For Phillips, however, the fulfillment of the job makes the mental and physical demand worth it.

“It’s rewarding to come to somebody’s aid when they’re having their darkest hour and you have to be at your best,” Phillips said.

Bachman said the Peoria Fire Department has acknowledged the mental health of firefighters recently.

“We’ve been very mindful of that. I think, this year. Trying to get that point across to take care of yourself not only physically but mentally,” Bachman said. “We do, and have, especially with everything in the last year going on, been talking to our firefighters about, you know, mental health, putting out the flyers, having training. We also have a group that we work without of OSF that does critical incident stress debriefing for us.”

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