January 2, 2018
On October 8, 2017, as wildfires ignited in northern California, fire fighters from CAL FIRE Local 2881, Santa Rosa Local 1401 and other California locals took action. Strong winds continued to feed the blazes, which raged for 22 days before being contained. More than 20,000 people managed to evacuate, but sadly, 43 lives were lost. The wildfires also destroyed more than 6,000 homes and other structures, and burned more than 200,000 acres.
While residents and first responders of northern California worked to rebuild, less than two months later, the blaze wildfires returned with a vengeance to southern California, engulfing 360 square miles of dry brush, and destroying 680 homes across the region to date. Dedicated crews from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara County are working around the clock to contain the wildfires, which are projected to rage into 2018.
Tragedies like these are harsh realities that both wildland and structural fire fighters face, and in the midst of tragedy often lies an element of self-sacrifice. IAFF members in the path of these fires spend day and night on the frontlines, unsure of the status of their own homes.
These wildfires left far more than a physical void as many IAFF members are also dealing with painful memories, post-traumatic stress and grief from their own personal losses. In response, the IAFF is on the ground to help members with financial, medical and other assistance, including peer support and behavioral health counseling services.
You, too, can help lighten the burden for the men and women affected by this tragedy:
Wildfires may be hard to contain, but the emotional devastation can take an even greater toll. If you’re an IAFF member battling depression, addiction or any other mental health or substance use disorder, help is available. Consider the individualized treatment programs at the IAFF Center of Excellence.
Call the IAFF Center of Excellence today to speak with someone who can guide you down the path to recovery.