Celebrating One Year of Hope and Healing

Author: IAFF Staff

March 6, 2018

On March 5, 2017, the IAFF Center of Excellence opened its doors and became the first center of its kind — a place designed by fire fighters, for IAFF fire fighters. By combining the resources of the IAFF with the clinical know-how of Advanced Recovery Systems (ARS), we’ve created a treatment center that provides IAFF members care for addiction, mental health struggles and co-occurring disorders. One year later, we’re proud to say that our commitment is stronger than ever.

In a single year, the Center of Excellence has connected more than 260 IAFF members to life-changing treatment. But this is only the beginning. In the years to come, we hope to reach even more men and women.

In honor of the hope and healing we’ve brought so far, we’d like to reflect on a few of the things that make the IAFF Center of Excellence special.

A Facility Designed With You in Mind

Stretched across 15 acres in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, the IAFF Center of Excellence is the first behavioral health center developed just for IAFF members. To help fire fighters and paramedics feel more at home, the entire campus is designed with the stationhouse in mind, with familiar touches in communal spaces and private reflection areas.

The Center of Excellence also includes access to a broad range of amenities and activities that help fire fighters and paramedics heal in both body and mind.

  • A full gym
  • Peaceful walking trails
  • Basketball and volleyball courts
  • Yoga and mindfulness therapy

With capacity to treat 64 IAFF members at a time, our Center works to ensure that every fire fighter or paramedic who steps through our doors can heal and return to the rewarding career they love.

Evidence-Based Care Created by Experts

The IAFF Center of Excellence was created in partnership with ARS, a national leader in addiction and behavioral health care. With eight full-service treatment facilities across the country, ARS has helped thousands of people recover from substance use disorders and mental health conditions. With the help of leading doctors and clinicians, ARS is extending its therapeutic expertise to help fire fighters and paramedics at the IAFF Center of Excellence.

The unique partnership with ARS ensures that the latest treatment techniques are used at our Center to address the conditions that most commonly afflict IAFF members. As a dually licensed facility, the Center of Excellence can address both mental health and substance use disorders, making it an invaluable resource for IAFF members.

The IAFF Center of Excellence offers personalized care plans:

  • Mental and Behavioral Health Conditions: Conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, the stressful nature of emergency work makes fire fighters and paramedics more likely to develop these behavioral health issues. By recognizing mental health concerns and seeking professional help, you or someone you love can heal from trauma and learn to cope with future stressors.
  • Addiction: Whether your addiction started as a way to cope with stress or recover from an injury, the IAFF Center of Excellence can help you take back your life and return to the work and people you love. Through medically administered care, individual therapy sessions and 12-step support groups, our professionals provide top-quality care from detox to discharge.
  • Co-Occurring Disorders: In many cases, addiction occurs alongside a mental health issue, or vice versa. By addressing both conditions at the same time, the IAFF Center of Excellence can deliver comprehensive, individualized care.

Professionals Who Understand Your Struggle

The physicians, clinicians and specialists at our facility understand the unique culture of the fire service and stresses that come with the job. what it’s like to walk a mile in your boots. Through Fire Ops 101 and other training programs, our staff members get an inside look at the daily mental and physical challenges that come with life as a fire fighter or paramedic. This helps them better understand the unique difficulties that come with your line of work, and allows them to deliver consistently compassionate care.

Walkway and outdoor view of the wellness center

The IAFF Center of Excellence is proud to have helped so many fire fighters and paramedics from across the country, but we’re not done yet. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, mental health problems or co-occurring disorders, we can help you, too. Reach out to a representative today to learn more. There’s no obligation to start treatment when you call, and your conversation is completely confidential.

We can help. Call 855-900-8437 or

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