Most of the firefighters who have worked day and night since the quake have no homes to return to.
Urban Search and Rescue fire chief Russell Wood said the magnitude 6.3 quake had severely hit Christchurch fire service staff, and more than 100 had suffered significant loss or damage to property.
The homes of at least 10 will have to be demolished.
"They're all carrying out far more shifts. And then they go home at night and face their own personal problems," said Mr Wood.
Fire Service welfare officer Kevin Crozier said a disproportionate amount of staff had been affected because most lived in the eastern suburbs, where quake-related damage was worst.
He said many staunch firefighters were coming to him in tears.
There have been many, many heroes in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake, and emergency service workers are to the forefront in that. Sadly, many of those involved in the Urban Search and Rescue will get no rest for some time to come; many of them are already in Japan, or en route to a place where the scale of the devastation that awaits them dwarfs Christchurch's destruction.
This morning's Wanganui Chronicle carries a story about Bryce Coneybeer, a senior Wanganui firefighter and USAR team member bound for Japan with two other Wanganui USAR members, Aaron Summerhays and Ross Whetton. These guys have been working in Christchurch since the February 22nd 'quake, and yesterday headed from Christchurch to Auckland to fly out to Japan for at least 10 days. They have no idea of what awaits them. Bryce Coneybeer said this:
Look, we just don't know...it's a challenge. We really don't know what we're facing...this is one terrible disaster. We have no idea of exactly what or how...we're going there to do our job. Whatever they need us to do.
We salute these brave folk who would say, in their own words, that thy're just doing their jobs. They're not; their level of commitment goes far beyond that. Sadly, the scale of the Japanese catastrophe is going to mean that there will be even more pressure on Christchurch-based emergency service personnel, and rebuilding their own lives will have to wait a little bit longer due to resources on the ground in Chriustchurch being deployed elsewhere.
Our thoughts, our prayers and our appreciation are with them; we hope that they'll get the help and support that they need, and that the light at the end of the tunnel grows a little brighter with each passing day.