"A sight you'll never forget". Why firefighters experience certain incidents as critical and the impact of such incidents on individual firefighters and fire crews

Karin Dangermond, Ricardo Weewer, Joachim Duyndam, J.E.M. Machielse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Firefighters encounter critical incidents as part of their work. Little research has been conducted into the impact of critical incidents on firefighters’ well-being and performance. The goal of this study is to gain in-depth understanding of firefighters’ experiences with critical incidents and their impact on both individual firefighters and their crews. Data were collected by means of 20 participant observations and 72 interviews with Dutch firefighters from 37 different fire stations. Whether an incident is experienced as critical depends on the type of incident, the personal situation and the circumstances of the incident. Directly or indirectly, experiencing a critical incidents impacts firefighters during and after the incident, both professionally and personally. Experiencing critical incidents affects the dynamics within a crew. Knowledge about their impact is necessary to tailor help and aftercare more effectively to firefighters’ needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-312
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Emergency Management
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • firefighters
  • critical incidents
  • impact
  • firefighter culture
  • critical incident stress
  • ethnographic field research

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