It is fire officials who jump into danger before anyone else at natural disasters or various accident sites. That’s why there are so many fire officials who are injured or die in the line of duty. For this reason, fire officials have been known to have the best work ethic among public servants. So Byung-hoon, a member of the Public Administration and Security Committee, released the results of a report that six out of ten fire officials were declared ill on 15 October, 2018, based on the special health diagnosis data submitted by the National Fire Agency, and the Ministry of Employment and Labor. This is 2.8 times the rate of abnormal health of ordinary workers, and 16.1 percent higher than the rate of abnormal health of night workers who had a hardworking intensity among ordinary workers. Many fire officials are suffering from various diseases due to their high level of work and training.
It’s not only physical health problems, but also the psychological intensity of their job is significant. On August 28, the National Fire Agency announced the results of the “2019 Survey on the Heart Health of Fire Officials,” which was conducted on 50,755 people in May and June using an online survey program. The results illustrate how anxious fire officials are and the urgent need to establish related programs and facilities to deal with these anxieties. According to the results of the investigation, 4.9 percent of the responding fire officials were classified in a suicidal risk group. They answered, “I’ve thought or tried to kill myself,” “I’ve told someone else I could kill myself,” and “I have a chance to commit suicide one day.”
Clearly, the bodies and minds of fire officials are becoming exhausted and deteriorating by their exposure to traumatic incidents. But the right treatments for their trauma are still insufficient. And the problem is that there is still a shortage of fire officials. Due to a significant shortage of personnel by region and sector, a larger on-site workforce is urgently needed. Fire officials have a rule to only work in three shifts, but because of a lack of manpower, that rule is often not being followed. In addition, sometimes they aren’t fully protected from fire or smoke because of older equipment. In order to protect the safety of these invaluable civil servants, who jump into danger before anyone else, the right environment is necessary.
About 380,769 people participated in the petition, “Please switch fire officials to national posts,” which was posted from 5 April, 2019 to 5 May, 2019. As a result, the Blue House gave an official response, and now the transition of fire officials to national posts and the improvement of their working conditions is being discussed. Under the current situation, if fire officials are converted to national posts, it is expected to improve their lives and provide more systematic support by the government, but many changes are also needed for the internal system situation of the fire department. In addition, it will need the continued attention and support of citizens directed at fire officials who day and night to protect the people.