Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

First Advisor

James L. Pharr

Department Affiliation

Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

Second Advisor

Francis J. Deleonibus

Department Affiliation

Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

Third Advisor

Sarah Morris

Department Affiliation

Safety, Security, and Emergency Management


Firefighters respond to dangerous emergencies every day. The physical and mental wellness of firefighters is very important to their overall job performance. To support this, fire departments must have established, comprehensive wellness programs (International Association of Firefighters, 2008). Even with national standard recommendation of wellness programs, one does not exist in a fire department located in Northern Ohio.

The focus of this research is to explore reasons why these highly recommended wellness programs are not established. Successful establishment of a wellness program requires understanding why this fire department is hesitant or unsuccessful in implementing and maintaining a wellness program.

This research consisted of a qualitative study with employees from a single fire department. Three employees were chosen at three different levels of the fire department rank structure: entry-level, middle management, and high management. These three employees were chosen at random by the chief of the department. Employees were asked various questions about their knowledge of (a) the leading cause of firefighter fatalities, (b) awareness of wellness programs, (c) whether their department should have a wellness program, and (d) who in the department would be advocates for a wellness program.

Participants all agree that the components of the wellness programs are important. Results from the interviews indicated that cost was not a reason preventing implementation; however, three main issues surfaced: (1) there was a clear breakdown of communication between different levels within the department, (2) the previously implemented wellness program failed, and (3) the department lacks voluntary participation.