Stories in the fire service ran the gambit this past week.
During a conference in Maryland, fire and rescue personnel spoke about something that many shy away from and avoid at any cost – mental health.
Preventing suicides and lending an ear should be everyone’s responsibility – not only an officer or someone who has initials behind their name.
People don’t hesitate discussing heart or other medical problems, but rarely talk about feeling depressed. It’s the notion that those with mental health issues can’t lead normal lives let alone be promoted.
Since firefighters are perceived as strong individuals, they are less likely to ask for help even if they desperately need it, Dr. Richard Gist told people attending the conference at the National Fire Academy.
Also this past week, it was age discrimination, not mental health, that has the San Francisco Fire Department reaching into its account.
A jury agreed with five firefighters that the department discriminated against them because of their age. It will cost the department $3.7M.
The firefighters -- three of whom have retired -- accused the city of arbitrarily altering dozens of test scores to the 2008 test and shredding scoring documents before they could file a legal challenge. They challenged the exam process as skewed against firefighters who were over 40.
Also, a story off the beaten path, so to speak, was among the most read. It didn’t involve a large fire or heroic rescue.
It was about how a Kansas man, trapped in an overturned vehicle in a Utah ravine, spent his last days writing notes to his family.
A hitch-hiker found the man and his vehicle seven weeks after he went missing. Neither Utah troopers nor the man's wife or four sons are revealing the content of his farewell messages.
Mother Nature continued her wrath in other areas of the country as well.
Three motorists were killed during a pile-up on an Arizona highway during a dust storm.
And, historic flooding in Texas left at least two dead.
Swift water rescue techs and others were busy evacuating residents, some of whom climbed onto the roofs of their houses to escape the waters.