Ladders and lifting: How gender affects safety behaviors in the fire service

<p>This research explores the degree to which gender affects safety behaviors and outcomes in the fire service. Semistructured focus groups and interviews were conducted based on findings from the literature on women and gender in the fire service. Four focus groups (<i>N</i> = 22) and eight interviews were recorded, transcribed, and coded using NVivo 10 software. This methodology explored if female gender improves safety behaviors through (1) weighing the risks and benefits of dangerous situations, (2) focusing on biomechanics and technique, (3) asking for help, (4) being motivated to report injuries, (5) being heard by colleagues, and (6) illuminating a hostile work environment’s contribution to safety. Participants report that women have less of a “tough guy” attitude than their male colleagues and felt that deviating from the modernist American hyper-masculine norm may have a positive impact on their work practices and injury outcomes. If women in the fire service perceive risk differently than their male colleagues, perhaps strengthening efforts to recruit women and creating a culture that values their perspective will improve the occupation’s overall safety outcomes. Further research is necessary to quantify these gender differences and their relationship to safety outcomes.</p>