Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Department or School/College

Department of Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Greg Larson

Commitee Members

Joel Iverson, Ron Wakimoto


"can-do" attitude, bureacracy, discourse, organizational burnout, seasonal/temporary employees, teamwork, wildland firefighter


University of Montana


This qualitative study of seasonal wildland firefighters examined stress and burnout in firefighters, the discourse that helps to systematically form firefighters’ conceptualizations of burnout, and what factors enable firefighters to manage or mitigate burnout. Traditionally, burnout is studied in long-term, year-round positions, and this study took a unique angle in considering a temporary/seasonal workforce. A discursive lens was used to investigate the enduring systems of meanings that firefighters draw upon in their everyday talk to more comprehensively understand burnout. Three main Discursive resources emerged from the data: teamwork, a "can-do" attitude, and bureaucracy. Teamwork and a can-do attitude serve as double-edged swords in firefighters’ experience of burnout, both enabling and constraining the firefighter experience, while bureaucracy emerged as a hindering force in firefighters’ conceptions of burnout. This paper will discuss the causes of burnout, as well as the ways firefighters manage burnout.



© Copyright 2011 Whitney Eleanor Marie Maphis