1. #1
    Junior Member

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    Sep 2004

    Unhappy depression after a fire

    Hello, my name is debbie, I recently started working as a volunteer firefighter and though I find the work rewarding, sometimes I feel a great depression after the blaze...
    like maybe there was something more that I could do, but also, all the awful images of someones entire lives burning up. it gets really tough to deal with for me. does anyone else ever feel this way?

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    kghemtp's Avatar
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    Apr 2003
    New Hampshire


    Debbie, it is human nature to doubt whatever we do, what we know, but it doesn't have to ruin all of the gratification we get in this profession. You have great empathy for those who have experienced considerable loss, and that probably makes you an even better FF & care provider. When you find yourself in the feeling of "glass half empty," try to think about all that you WERE able to do. You had an important place at the emergency scene, a position that would have been vacant if you hadn't shown up. A house might have been totally lost, or a life might not have been saved if you weren't there. There is no way we can know this, but we have to believe that our efforts, no matter how seemingly futile, contributed greatly to those we serve. You will learn to trust instinct, and instinct comes very much from training & experience, so you will begin to know that the actions you took WERE the right ones for that particular situation. You may always voice your thoughts & concerns here to talk about with others. Take care
    Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
    Dennis Miller

  3. #3
    Forum Member

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    Feb 2003


    Sounds rather natural if you're a living, feeling human.
    Remember though, that the tragic events are not your fault.
    Unless you're an arsonist.

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    firenresq77's Avatar
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    Oct 2000
    Northwest Ohio


    I want to echo what kghemtp said, and also add, that you may want to try to talk to others on your FD or to a CISD team. They are typically used for cases such as deaths, but can be used anytime someone is feeling stress, depression, etc......... Just use your resources, including all of us on the forums........

  5. #5
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2004


    like many of the people have said..."i would think there was something wrong with you if you didn't feel that way."
    Bucks County, PA.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Gary, IN



    The longer you are in the business, the easier it gets. Sometimes it helped me being on a busy department. Late 80's, early 90's we were doing 5-6 workers a day...I was always much more tired than depressed. Sure, if you have a nasty run, maybe a fatality, you wonder about those things, but we are only human beings.

    A piece of advice I got from a crusty old vet when I got on..."Remember kid, you didn't start the fire, just do your best to kick it's *** and move on. That's all anybody can expect from you."

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber
    bolivas203's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Brighton, CO USA


    Originally posted by gfdrob
    "The longer you are in the business, the easier it gets."

    "Remember kid, you didn't start the fire, just do your best to kick it's *** and move on. That's all anybody can expect from you."

    That about sums it up.

    Hang in there and come back to the forums often. They are a great place to vent and learn.
    Stay alert and be safe.

  8. #8
    Sr. Information Officer
    NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    25 NW of the GW


    ***Normal Reactions to a Disaster Event***

    *No one who responds to a mass casualty event is untouched by it
    *Profound sadness, grief, and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event
    *You may not want to leave the scene until the work is finished
    *You will likely try to override stress and fatigue with dedication and commitment
    *You may deny the need for rest and recovery time

    ***Signs That You May Need Stress Management Assistance***

    *Difficulty communicating thoughts
    *Difficulty remembering instructions
    *Difficulty maintaining balance
    *Uncharacteristically argumentative
    *Difficulty making decisions
    *Limited attention span
    *Unnecessary risk-taking
    *Tunnel vision/muffled hearing
    *Colds or flu-like symptoms.
    *Disorientation or confusion
    *Difficulty concentrating
    *Loss of objectivity
    *Easily frustrated
    *Unable to engage in problem-solving
    *Unable to let down when off duty
    *Refusal to follow orders
    *Refusal to leave the scene
    *Increased use of drugs/alcohol
    *Unusual clumsiness

    ***Ways to Help Manage Your Stress***

    *Limit on-duty work hours to no more than 12 hours per day
    *Make work rotations from high stress to lower stress functions
    *Make work rotations from the scene to routine assignments, as practicable
    *Use counseling assistance programs available through your agency
    *Drink plenty of water and eat healthy snacks like fresh fruit and whole grain breads and other energy foods at the scene
    *Take frequent, brief breaks from the scene as practicable.
    *Talk about your emotions to process have seen and done
    *Stay in touch with your family and friends
    *Participate in memorials, rituals, and use of symbols as a way to express feelings
    *Pair up with a responder so that you may monitor one another's stress
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  9. #9
    Forum Member
    martinm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Northumberland, United Kingdom


    You may discover that other people around you feel this way, or have done in the past. A good way of resolving your feelings is just to talk about them with your colleagues and "diffusing" the situation before you go off duty. Its not a sign of weakness to feel this way. It is not to talk about it. Like the other guys say, if these feelsings happen after every call, you really need to sit down and talk through your feelings and experiences with suitably trained and experienced people.
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

  10. #10
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    EastKyFF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Nippa, KY


    Hey, you're normal.

    One thing I suspect would also be biochemistry. You're fairly new at this game, so I would suspect that even "routine" calls get your adrenaline going pretty good. Like any stimulant, adrenaline leaves you feeling a bit droopy after it goes away. So once the "Oh boy! Gotta go!" and "Charge the line!" moments are gone and you're bedding hose, the adrenaline is gone and you are basically coming off an "upper".

    Just don't use any downers.

    What will happen is that as you get a bit more experience, you won't hammer so much adrenaline, at least not on "typical" calls, so you won't get so high and therefore not come crashing down as hard.

    Now, as for the non-chemical aspect of this, we've all been there. I have had some frustrating times where it seems like we can't save a dang thing due to delays in reporting the fire, far-flung locations, and so on. Then you turn around and have a worker like we did Friday, where we had early detection of the fire, a rapid report to 911, and a short drive time to the scene that confined the fire to one room and the carport. The man of the house, a military veteran, had died earlier this year, and I was able to find the flag from his casket and give it to his son. The plexi had melted out of the frame, which was scorched, but somehow Old Glory made it unscathed. Small victories add up!

    Just remember, the highs will feel even higher when you've been really low a few times.

    P.S. Are you a vampire?

    (To the uninitiated, "Alucard" is "Dracula" spelled backwards.
    I am more than just a serious basketball fan. I am a life-long addict. I was addicted from birth, in fact, because I was born in Kentucky.
    ― Hunter S. Thompson

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