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The health and wellness benefits of a sleep health program for fire departments
have just begun to be identified with this recent study, and in the medical field
sleep research is still developing overall. (Photo by author.)
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
strategic napping, and adopt a personal lifestyle of wellness,
health, and fitness to improve alertness.
6. Focus on high-risk populations for safety efforts, such as firefighters who have obstructive sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.
The health and wellness benefits of a sleep health program for fire
departments have just begun to be identified with this recent study, and
in the medical field sleep research is still developing overall. 3 By adopting
some of the lessons from this research in our departments, we can reduce
risks and minimize catastrophic potential. Of course, we will always be in
a job where we will have late nights and interrupted sleep, but by taking
actions to take care of ourselves and our personnel, we can improve the
well-being and safety of firefighters and the public. Almost half of the
firefighters in this study’s focus groups were able to make positive changes
in their sleep behavior by learning more about sleep deprivation and sleep
fatigue and using this knowledge to improve their sleep health. If half of
the firefighters in your department can improve their well-being and
sleep health, this knowledge will prove immediate value.
1. IAFC, “Sleep Deprivation Resources,” www.iafc.org/topics-and-tools/resources/
2. Barger, L K., “Implementing a sleep health education and sleep disorders
screening program in fire departments: a comparison of methodology,” Journal of
Occupational and Environmental Medicine: Vol 58 ( 6), June 2016.
3. Babson, K., Feldner, M., Sleep and Affect: Assessment, Theory, and Clinical Implications, New York, N. Y., Elsevier, 2015.
Nathaniel J. Melby, Ph.D., MBA, CFO, MIFireE, is a 20-year veteran of the fire service and
chief for the Campbell (WI) Fire Department. He serves on the Board of Directors of the
Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association and is the president of the La Crosse County Fire
Officers Association. Melby is a recipient of the Chief Fire Officer designation from the
Center for Public Safety Excellence and the member grade designation from the Institution of Fire Engineers. A Wisconsin Technical College System Fire Service training state
representative and a fire instructor for Western Technical College, he has developed and
taught graduate and undergraduate courses in management and technology at multiple
universities and has a full-time career in the energy industry as a technology executive.
Melby has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, an M.B.A. from
the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and a Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern University.