Firefighters' Mental Health

This drill is compliant with and supports the Safety Initiatives developed by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. TOPIC: MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES TIME REQUIRED: TWO HOURS MATERIALS: APPROPRIATE AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIALS...

  10. Changes in behavior

C. Officer responsibility

  1. Recognize potential mental health issues and confront firefighters about them while being respectful

  2. Be available to provide counseling and support

  3. Protect the privacy of the individual

  4. At major incidents, provide guidance and support for individuals at the scene

  5. Following a prolonged incident, help in transition back to normal working conditions through

     demobilization services

  6. Conduct debriefing with participants and discuss their reactions and feelings

  7. Establish policies that control the length of time a firefighter works during an incident and how often

      rehabilitation must occur

  8. Mandate use of SCBA during all phases of operations where toxic atmospheres are encountered

  9. Educate personnel in recognizing their own limitations and not exceeding them

  10. Be aware when members or crews have reached their limit of physical effectiveness

  11. Use rest time as a measurement as to when a person is able to return to work

  12. Consider assessment of person's baseline vital signs

  13. Make sure that personnel are considered fit for duty when their body core temperatures and vital

        signs have returned to an acceptable level

  14. Make a determination if is necessary to return to quarters for a change of uniform and dry

        protective clothing before returning to service



A. Incident Stress

  1. Stress has always been a part of the firefighter's life due to high level of uncertainty, limited control

      over work environment, and psychological impact of repeated emergency calls

  2. Departments should help individuals to manage stress experienced following incidents involving

      a. Mass casualties

      b. Fatalities involving children

      c. Serious injury or fatalities involving members of the department

      d. Suicides

      e. Incidents involving close friends, relatives, or colleagues

      f. Violence directed toward firefighters

      g. Death of a civilian as a result of emergency operations

      h. Incidents general excessive media attention

B. Post-Incident Illness and Injury

  1. Emergency Scene

      a. Treatment can be provided through rehab section where food, water, and cool down materials

          are provided

      b. In extreme cases, transportation of members to a medical facility for extended professional

          medical treatment may be necessary

      c. Proper training in lifting, reaching, climbing, and carry techniques reduces potential for injuries

  2. Station

      a. Personnel should be trained to apply same work techniques that they use at an incident scene

      b. Education in proper hygiene, both personal and facility, should stress importance of cleanliness

          to prevent spread of diseases

      c. Policies should be established for food storage, dishwashing, clothes washing, and use and

         cleaning of bedding

      d. If possible, provide bedding for each individual and have it changed following each shift

      e. Ensure that decontamination sinks are provided for cleaning and disinfecting of SCBA

          facepieces, medical equipment, and protective clothing

      f. Protective clothing, in particular turnout boots, must not be worn or taken into the living quarters

      g. Provide decontamination sinks, disinfectants, and protective clothing storage areas in all fire

         department facilities

C. Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

  1. Need for Employee Assistance

      a. Levels of stress normally encountered by firefighters can result in dependence on tobacco

          products, abuse of alcohol or drugs, domestic violence, excessive gambling, and financial


      b. Because it is impossible for a fire department to provide professional counseling services to meet