To determine the prevalence and severity of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) in a population-based sample of firefighters.
Sleepiness was assessed using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale in a sample of male career firefighters (n = 458) from 11 randomly selected fire departments in the Midwestern United States.
Unadjusted EDS rates (13.7% and 14.0% for on- and off-duty, respectively) were similar to the general US population and comparable occupational groups. Factors associated with EDS included 48-hour work shifts, non-private department sleep areas, and working a second job outside the fire service (P < 0.05).
Given firefighters' important role in public safety, concerns have been raised about whether firefighters' work schedules result in high rates of excessive sleepiness. Nevertheless, firefighters in this study did not have high rates of EDS despite their extended work schedule.