The fire chief's role in firefighter mental health

  • Source: firerescue1
  • Published: 03/25/2016 12:00 AM

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. As a fire chief, should you say or do anything in response to these circumstances? Should anyone? And if someone does take action, exactly what should that person do? Firefighters sometimes hesitate to get involved when a colleague might be having problems related to behavioral health, because they don't want to intrude. They respect professional and personal boundaries. All firefighters have problems now and then, right? Why should it be the business of others, and especially the chief of the department, to intervene? Sometimes necessary intervention is undermined for the opposite reason: firefighters at all levels in the organization are too close, too much like family. These close relationships may provide an opportunity for someone in need to seek advice or counsel. Or they may allow coworkers to make excuses for a colleague and to cover for that person instead of confronting the problem.


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