More than 800 women firefighters from 14 different countries, 255 in the UK, told researchers via an online survey that they face injury, illness and heat illness risk at similar rates to that of male firefighters. The report said specific issues such as protective equipment, clothing, health issues and long-term training need further consideration and improvement.
The study coincides with national news reports claiming women firefighters in the UK were being put in danger by having to wear suits designed for men.
The study recommended all countries should make female-specific personal protective equipment (PPE) available to staff, and they should include women firefighters in the consultation phase of PPE procurement.
“There is also a need for female-specific strength and conditioning support to support career longevity. Services should consider their facilities, support, and education of women firefighters in regard to menstrual cycle phases and menopause.
“Finally, there is concern from women firefighters about the risk of cancer and fertility, which clearly needs greater research.”
The research, Women Firefighters’ Health and Well-Being: An International Survey, is published by Elsevier.