Firefighters’ Transition Into Retirement: Issues, Challenges And Support Program Design

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Retirement represents a challenging life transition for many working adults. These challenges are especially exacerbated among emergency services personnel because of the higher physical and emotional stress they experience on the job and very strong identification with the service.
To investigate challenges and opportunities associated with firefighters’ retirement, we have conducted a comprehensive review of the published and ‘grey’ literature and undertaken lengthy interviewees with firefighters, their family members and other stakeholders from DFES, UFU and FES SuperFund.
Traditionally, retirement preparation was associated with finances. Our findings suggest that retirement involves an array of unique and complex challenges associated with physical and mental health, relationships with family and friends, life attitudes and occupation identity. These challenges become most evident in the post-retirement stage, but a number of issues could and
should be addressed in pre-retirement and retirement transition stages. Importantly, we find that if not properly addressed, these challenges may lead to lower life satisfaction and wellbeing, and higher substance abuse and mortality post-retirement.
Organisations play a critical role in helping employees achieve more successful and healthy retirement. From our interviews we suggest a number of improvements to the current DFES retirement-related practices. We emphasise the need for a dedicated preparation-for-retirement program for firefighters. This report provides examples of the tools and approaches that could be
used for the design of such an initiative.
We also find that research and practice both lack evidence-based approaches and interventions that would help individuals and organisations resolve some of the retirement challenges.
Therefore, DFES should play an active role in pioneering more research and evidence-based program design, not only to improve the retirement outcomes of WA’s firefighters, but to stimulate other emergency services in Australia to follow.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe University of Western Australia
Commissioning bodyDepartment of Fire and Emergency Services (Western Australia)
Number of pages65
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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