Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Thank a firefighter -- job is No. 3 in list of most stressful occupations

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Your friendly neighbourhood firefighter has the third-most-stressful job, according to work-stress survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Everest College in Ontario.

Running into burning buildings is very stressful, the study says. Also, the bursts of stress between lulls firefighters experience is more stressful than a steady stream of stress, it says.

"It doesn't surprise me at all," said Alex Forrest, president of United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg, Local 867. "That's why post-traumatic stress disorder is common among firefighters, police officers and emergency-service workers," Forrest said.

There's also a high rate of heart disease and heart attacks among firefighters, he said.

"Every time you're in a fire hall and get an alarm, your level of stress goes up, and your adrenaline fight-or-flight reaction."

Military personnel in the front lines have the most stressful jobs, followed by the military generals who send soldiers to the front, according to the survey.

Fourth on the stress list is a commercial airline pilot, who must bear the responsibility of so many people's lives every time a plane takes off and lands.

Fifth is a public relations executive. Part of the problem is public relations "is a very thankless job," the study said.

The survey used 11 criteria to determine stress including physical danger, how much work is in the public eye, and having responsibility for other people's lives.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 5, 2013 A7

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