Coming to the Rescue

Author: IAFF Staff

August 16, 2018

Fire stations across the United States and Canada are now developing peer support resources and educational programs to educate fire fighters about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how to address it.  

You may also know a co-worker struggling with a substance use disorder or who is now in recovery after seeking treatment.

Historically, there’s been a stigma in the fire service about seeking treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) is working to change this. As part of this effort, the IAFF encourages affiliates to develop peer support programs that help members recognize and manage the stresses they may encounter while on the job.

In addition, the IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery is exclusively for members with both mental health and substance use disorders. This one-of-a-kind facility was created for fire fighter by fire fighters and is staffed with medical and clinical professionals who understand the fire service and can design treatment programs especially for fire fighters.

If you’re concerned that a brother or sister has a substance use disorder or other behavioral health challenge, here are some tips for talking to them:

  • Be proactive – You respond proactively to emergency calls and can use this same skill when engaging in a conversation about mental health.
  • Be compassionate – Speak from the heart and be empathetic to anything that is said.
  • Be timely – If a fellow fire fighter confides in you about their struggles, act quickly to get them the help they need.
  • Be an ally – Being there for someone, whether it’s taking them to an AA meeting or a therapist appointment, visiting them in treatment or just grabbing a cup of coffee with them, is the best way to show support. The bond among those in the fire service is unlike most professions and it’s important to take care of each other.
Fire fighters in uniform standing in front of a fire truck

Mental health and substance use disorders can cause issues within a family or trouble at workHelp can’t wait. Call the IAFF Center of Excellence today for a no-obligation, free and confidential screening. The IAFF Center of Excellence is a comprehensive treatment center designed exclusively for IAFF members struggling with addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health concerns.

We can help. Call 240-545-5141 or

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