Health and wellness programs for firefighters have been a fire service hot topic for many decades. For much of our history, fitness was an afterthought or only a concern for a few individual firefighters, or perhaps isolated to a station's habits and culture. It wasn't until about 30 years ago that the fire service, with representatives from labor and management, took a comprehensive approach to firefighter health and wellness. Standards have developed to codify evolving practices and push improvement. Read More...

Every day, firefighters face numerous risks and hazards and rely on their personal protective equipment (PPE) to help them stay safe. Unfortunately, some hazards are less apparent than others, such as limited oxygen and exposure to respiratory toxins. A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) filled with unregulated or irregularly tested compressed breathing air can contain contaminants that pose significant risks to firefighters, including: Read More...

At the upcoming Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC), the fire service can expect a variety of new product and service claims as it does each year. Continuing emphasis on contamination control will drive vendors to promote specific equipment, supplies and processes, all with the guarantee for reducing firefighter exposure to potential carcinogens and other hazardous substances.

The large majority of these items or approaches will be well-meaning, but as is often noted, a certain amount of zeal will be present to entice departments and individual firefighters to consider new ways that they can reduce their risks. Read More...

Health & Wellness

In an effort to bring attention to the critical issue of wellness for first responders, the MCVFA Health & Wellness puts numerous resources related to cancer issues, heart health and general wellness in one central location.


It takes a person with heart to do your job. Keep it strong and safe.

Why Firefighter High Blood Pressure is Different
After the fire is knocked down the rehab sheet comes over to you. Joe, the engineer off of Truck 3, standouts out on the list as his blood pressure is showing 160/100.

Joe looks fine and when you talk to him he says he feels fine. The paramedics appear concerned but vague or non-committal about the risk of letting Joe continue the shift or continuing to work on the scene. Read More…

NVFC and NFPA Standards Guide Focusing on NFPA 1851
The guide breaks down key components of the standard and offers clarification, identifies manageable steps, and highlights available resources to assist departments in reaching their safety goals. Information regarding the standards making process is also provided. Find the new NFPA 1851 guide and other resources for understanding and implementing standards here.

New Edition of The Helpletter Released to Address Firefighter and EMT Behavioral Health Topics
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has released the second edition of The Helpletter, the newsletter of the NVFC’s Share the Load behavioral health program. This publication, available both in print and online, provides information, tips, and resources to proactively address firefighter and EMT behavioral health.

FAMA’s Fire Apparatus Safety Guide
The Fire Apparatus Manufacturer’s Association (FAMA) has developed the Fire Apparatus Safety Guide. The NFPA-compliant guide is available to anyone working on or around a fire apparatus. It includes essential safety information for firefighters, fire chiefs, apparatus mechanics, and fire department safety officers.

The guide is available at a discounted rate at

IFSTA Cancer Guide
The International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) has released a Speaking of Fire Special Edition, “Cancer in the Fire Service.” This report stresses the importance of treating every single call as a potential cancer risk, a critical fireground tactic that may one day save your life.

Mental Health Care On and Off the Job
Firefighters and EMTs need to know how to take care of others as well as our own who may suffer from a behavioral health issue. There are many resources to help.

PPE: How Clean is Clean? New Research aims to Find Out
Are you protected, and are you sure? Every day you are at risk on the job for exposure to a wide range of toxic chemicals, biological pathogens, and other hazardous substances. Some times the only thing between you and these threats is your personal protective equipment (PPE). Read More…

The Fire Chief’s role in Firefighter Mental Health

A battalion chief has become short-tempered and erratic in his decision making. A company officer is rumored to be going through a bad divorce and drinking heavily when off duty. A firefighter who was involved in a particularly bad medical call has been calling in sick a lot since then. Read More…

Safety Focus: Preventing Strains and Sprains from VFIS
Strains and sprains are frequent types of emergency responder injuries. Understanding their cause and working to prevent them is important in establishing a safety culture.
Download a copy of Safety focus: Preventing strains and sprains.

New Dietary Guidelines Released
Eating right is an important part of being a heart-healthy firefighter. New federal guidelines recommend eating less sugar and focusing on eating a variety of nutritious, balanced foods. Learn more. With heart attack the leading cause of line-of-duty firefighter deaths, and obesity a serious problem in the fire service, nutrition and fitness are key to helping first responders protect themselves and be ready for their jobs. Find additional tools and resources to help on the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program web site.

NIOSH Research Supports Firefighter Safety
Over the last several years, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has collaborated with the firefighter community, firefighter apparatus manufacturers, and the NFPA standards committee to conduct a national survey of firefighter body measurements, or anthropometry. The data collected provides the first U.S. national firefighter anthropometric information for fire apparatus and PPE.

PTSD- Do I Have It?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among law enforcement, firefighters, and other first responders is an exceedingly common occurrence due to the nature of the job. This article by Michael Healy looks at the three major categories of PTSD and symptoms of each.

Cancer Prevention
The NVFC has created a webpage with tools, resources, and training to help firefighters combat cancer. This includes action items, sample documents, best practices, training, tips, and other materials to help raise awareness about cancer and the fire service and arm first responders with tools to lessen their risks.

Retiring? What’s Your Emotional Plan?
Many firefighters and EMTs don’t have a plan for what happens once they retire from the fire service. Yet the loss of identity or the lingering images of emergency scenes can lead many to fall into addiction, depression, PTSD, or even suicide. This article by Jeff Dill discusses why retirement planning is important and highlights actions fire and EMS organizations can take to support their personnel through this process.

USFA, IAFC Release National Safety Culture Change Initiative Report
The USFA and IAFC have released the National Safety Culture Change Initiative report providing the findings of a study that identified and examined types of individual and organizational behaviors that adversely impact firefighter health and safety and the sound strategies and programs developed based on these findings.
Obesity in the Fire Service
There is an obesity epidemic in the fire service. This American Heart Month, learn more about the causes of this problem and recommendations for combatting obesity in the fire service and improving the heart health of our nation’s first responders. Access this training in the NVFC Virtual Classroom.

Fitness Videos Available from NVFC
Being physically prepared for the job is critical for the health and safety of firefighters. The NVFC has released a series of six short videos demonstrating functional fitness exercises that firefighters can perform at the station to strengthen muscle groups used during training and response.

Share the Load Video Available

The NVFC has released a new video as part of its Share the Load support program that helps department members recognize key signs and symptoms of five serious behavioral health issues. The brief three-minute video focuses on the warning signs to know for post traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicide risk, substance abuse, and anxiety. It also informs people of help available through the Fire/EMS Helpline and Share the Load program. Watch this important video now, and share it with your friends and family.
Getting a Handle on Stress
Stress is a normal reaction designed to help us cope with dangerous situations. Faced with a threat, this automatic response kicks us into gear so we can deal with the problem at hand. Although adaptive in high-pressure situations, the human body isn’t designed to withstand the physiological changes that occur over extended periods of time. Chronic stress causes wear and tear on you mentally and physically and can wind up damaging your health, relationships, and job performance.

Guide for Family Members of Volunteer Responders Available

Joining the volunteer fire service means a lifestyle change not only for the individual volunteer, but also for their entire family. To help family members navigate the volunteer fire service life, the NVFC partnered with to create the new resource, What to Expect: A Guide for Family Members of Volunteer Firefighters.

Proper Use of PPE – Every Time

Recent studies have shown increased rate of many forms of cancer among firefighters, underscoring the critical importance of the full and proper use of PPE during all activities – including training. Making sure you protect yourself by not cutting corners with your PPE is essential for your safety as an emergency responder.

NVFC Emergency Vehicle Safe Operations Guide Avaliable

The NVFC, with guidance from VFIS, has released the second edition of the Emergency Vehicle Safe Operations for Volunteer and Small Combination Emergency Service Organizations guide, along with an online companion training course.

Steps for Getting Healthy
Being a first responder isn’t an easy job. You wake up in the middle of the night, leave early from important events, and make many other sacrifices to keep your community safe. You know that you need to be ready whenever the next call comes in – and that you have to be at your physical and mental best to tackle the challenges at hand. Learn more at the NVFC website.

Quit Smoking and Stay Quit – Put It Out Campaign
Firefighters and emergency personnel are known for running into extremely difficult situations when everyone else is running out. You can face the difficult process of quitting smoking. Click here to learn more.

Check out this free infographic to learn more about the most common cancers in the fire service and steps you can take to protect yourself

It’s no secret that smoke and soot are hazardous to your health, and a recent NIOSH study confirmed the long-suspected link between firefighting and an elevated cancer risk.

Download this FREE infographic to learn more about the most common cancers in the fire service, what causes them and, most importantly, what you should do after every fire call to reduce your risk. Learn More...

In an effort to increase the tools available to local fire departments, the Department of Fire Services has created ten video fire safety public service announcements (PSAs). Fire departments are welcome to download the PSAs and use them in presentations, on their own websites, or to ask their own local cable access stations to air them. They have permission to customize them with your logo. The topics covered include:

• Smoke alarms

• CO alarms

• Home escape plans

• Cooking safety

• Match & lighter safety

• Home heating safety

• Space heater safety

• Electrical safety

• Dryer fire prevention

• Candle safety 

You can find them on the DFS YouTube channel and click on the Fire Safety PSA playlist, or you may find them on individual DFS webpages by topic. We are indebted to the staff of the Mansfield Cable Access Television which produced them for us. If you need assistance with these PSAs, please contact Jennifer Mieth, Public Information Officer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (978) 567-3189.