Firefighters across Canada focusing more on mental health as wildfire seasons worsen

By Madeleine Cummings
CBC News
July 9, 2023
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada

Fighting wildfires has always been a physically demanding job, but attention is increasingly being paid in Canada to its psychological toll. Wildland firefighters and professionals who work with them say the job has become mentally tougher as fires have become larger and more complex, increasingly getting close to or reaching areas where people live. “I hear it over and over again that these are unprecedented conditions, and yet every every other week there’s new unprecedented conditions,” said Steve Lemon, an incident commander with BC Wildfire Service. Lemon, who said he has lost five colleagues to suicide, is also a safety and well-being officer trying to accelerate a cultural shift toward more discussions about mental health within firefighting. …As Canada reckons with its worst wildfire season ever, crew leaders and firefighting company managers are on alert for warning signs of mental-health struggles.

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