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Volunteer firefighting and family life: an organisational perspective on conflict between volunteer and family roles

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2008
<mark>Journal</mark>Australian Journal on Volunteering
Issue number2
Volume13
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)21-31
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Protection to Australian communities from bushfire and other emergencies is provided mostly by volunteers. However, declining volunteer numbers have forced emergency service agencies to consider factors impacting adversely on volunteer retention. The current study provides an organisational perspective on the difficulties of balancing volunteering and family commitments through semi-structured interviews with managers of Australian volunteer fire-fighters. A thematic analysis of interviews identified several themes, including: volunteers' difficulty prioritising family needs ahead of brigade responsibilities; leaving household and business responsibilities with family members; a lack of time with family; and interruptions to family routines and activities. Findings are discussed in the context of existing research and a theoretical model of Work-Family Conflict, and inform recommendations for agencies to support families and minimise conflicts between volunteer fire-fighting and family life.