Harassment, Discrimination, and Assault: The Unseen Crisis in Fire Service Professions


  • Shelby Perket University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • Krista McQueeney University of Wisconsin-Whitewater




Firefighter, Harassment, Discrimination, Assault, Fire Service, Emergency Medical Services


Fire service professionals put their lives on the line every day serving their communities and are expected to perform their professional duties with kindness and compassion. However, behind closed doors, harassment and discrimination are widespread. Probationary periods filled with hazing rituals are used to test the mental toughness of new members. In many cases, this hazing behavior continues in the form of harassment, discrimination, and assault often targeting females in the workplace causing lasting consequences. 

This study evaluates the prevalence of harassment, discrimination, and assault in fire service professions including both firefighters and emergency medical service personnel. Participants (n=305) were asked to report on various workplace behaviors involving their experiences with sexual harassment, discrimination, and assault. Results show that harassment, discrimination, and assault, particularly sexual assault, are pervasive within fire service professions, disproportionately targeting female employees. Findings suggest that women were statistically more likely to report incidents of harassment, discrimination and/or assault to their employers, less likely to feel their reports were handled appropriately by administrative personnel, and more likely to experience workplace sexual assault than their male colleagues.


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How to Cite

Perket, S., & McQueeney, K. (2023). Harassment, Discrimination, and Assault: The Unseen Crisis in Fire Service Professions . Journal of Student Research, 11(4). https://doi.org/10.47611/jsr.v11i4.1742



Research Articles