Shift work and extended working hours can both impact on fatigue. Long hours and shift work patterns that disrupt the body's circadian rhythms often result in workers becoming fatigued.
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It can not be avoided that fire fighters are required to work shift work, it's what they signed up for. Aside from that, emergencies happen when they happen, and unfortunately we can't turn them off so we can snuggle up after 9.00 pm to watch a movie.
What can be avoided however, is the effects that sleep deprivation, interrupted sleep, fatigue and all things nasty that come with working shift work, have on us and our body clocks. Adrian, despite working at a rural fire station mentioned that interrupted sleep is way worse than no sleep at all. Being woken suddenly and being expected to perform quickly, efficiently and with the urge to pee is quite a challenge.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland have copious amounts of information available, such as this document 'Managing Fatigue' available for all industries. They also supply industry specific information.
The general consensus for managing fatigue, which should be adopted by Adrian an his fellow Firies includes:
Diet - maintain a healthy diet and try to eat three meals a day, even if it means eating breakfast at 3am. Avoid caffeine and limit alcohol content (on your days off that is).
Sleep - try and sleep prior to your shift commencing and initiate a routine so your body knows what's next (warm shower or cup of tea). Purchase and install heavy curtains to black out the room. Hang a sign up 'visitors go away'.
Social life - avoid social activity before a shift is to commence. Rest and recover during days off where possible.
A huge part of managing fatigue is recognising it. Adrian and all emergency service personnel must first recognise if they are not coping, and should be encouraged to take necessary action if required. Professional help is available if insomnia continues. Fatigue alone is a hazard - the rescuer may require rescuing.