Firefighting the Second-Most Stressful Job in the Nation, White Paper Reports

One more for your reading…maybe this one will help you think twice when voting on fire department taxes.

A new job-stress report by found that firefighters have the second most-stressful job in the country, exceeded only by those enrolled in the military.

The job-stress white paper states that 36% of all workers admit they feel tense or stressed out during their workdays, with 20% reporting that their average daily level of stress is an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale. Tony Lee, publisher of — a free job website — said researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison regularly research and update statistics for the report. Researchers use 11 different stress factors to compile data, which includes whether the job has high physical demands, what environmental issues are present, the amount of hazards, risk to life, hiring outlook and more.

Lee said firefighters ranked second on the job stress scale because they take on dangerous and complex fires, often coming in contact with poisonous gases or other hazardous materials for a relatively low salary, at about $45,250 annually. Whether it’s running into burning buildings to save lives, putting out raging fires or responding to a serious accident, firefighters are under pressure to put their lives on the line to save others, he said.

What helped move firefighters up to the second spot was their level of stress coupled with the threat of job loss. Lee said while it is an incredibly “tough job,” many firefighters “may not be able to keep it because of budget cutbacks and municipalities’ and counties’ inability to keep all their firefighters,” he said. “So that adds to the stress level even more.”

CareerCast ranked firefighting as the most-stressful occupation in 2010.

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