Understanding firefighter beliefs and behaviors related to cleaning and decontaminating bunker gear after a fire is an essential first step in devising an effective health intervention to reduce risks.
Firefighters face substantial risks of exposure to carcinogens and other toxins. These exposure risks result most often from dermal absorption during a fire or inhalation of off-gassing particles (volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) from contaminated bunker gear during removal.
A recent study1 examined firefighter attitudes, norms and perceived barriers to field decontamination processes. Data for the study was collected from a survey of 482 firefighters from four South Florida fire departments. Read More...
SCBA life extension and properly cleaning and storing PPE can extend the life cycle and save your department’s budget
Outfitting new recruits, providing backup PPE ensembles and replacing firefighter gear, SCBA and equipment is a significant expenditure for any fire department. Use these five strategies to care for and extend the life of firefighter gear to protect your firefighters, as well as your budget. Read More...
Quite some time ago I heard a presentation by a financial advisor. He said that everyone should pay themselves first in order to best prepare for retirement. I have since heard this advice many times. I think it should apply to everyone’s health and wellness also. This is especially true in the fire service. We have always known of the physical requirements and knowledge needed. We continue to learn about the mental and emotional aspects of the job. Those personalities attracted to the fire service are unselfish by nature. But, maybe we need to do a better job of “paying ourselves first” with respect to our own well-being so that we are better able to serve others. 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 http://www.fama.org/fire-service-resources/fama-fire-apparatus-safety-guide/.
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.
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.
PTSD- Do I Have It?
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
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.
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 FirefighterWife.com 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.
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.
February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and this is a critical topic for firefighters and department leaders to address. Cancer is one of the leading threats facing firefighters, but there are specific actions you can take to reduce these risks and protect yourself and your crew. Read article.