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IAFC, VCOS Release Report on Behavioral Health in the Fire Service

Fairfax, Va. – The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the IAFC Volunteer and Combination Officers Section (VCOS) today released a Yellow Ribbon Report exploring emotional and behavioral health issues in the fire and emergency service.

Download the report: PDF or ePub for iBooks.

“Under the Helmet – Performing an Internal Size-up: A Proactive Approach to Ensuring Mental Wellness” brings awareness about the fire and emergency services’ emotional and behavioral health problem and emphasizes the importance of changing the culture. The 42-page report contains background information, statistics, resources, and action items for departments to use to ensure the mental wellness of their members. It was developed with the leadership from VCOS in collaboration with several fire service organizations, researchers, and other members of the fire service.

Chief John Sinclair, IAFC president and chairman of the board, commended VCOS and the other fire service and research partners who came together to develop this report.

“Much like we have a duty to serve our communities, we have a duty to serve one another,” Chief Sinclair said. “We must look out for each other unremittingly, not just on the fireground or at the station. It is imperative that we are able to identify the signs of stress and the behaviors resulting from cumulative stress overload.”

Chief Chuck Flynn, VCOS vice chair and lead on the project, said “My hope is that the Yellow Ribbon Report sparks some conversations in the fire and emergency services organizations, in which we serve,” Flynn said. “It is time we acknowledge and truly understand the ongoing emotional impact our public safety role has on our health, well-being, and relationships. After all, sometimes lives depend on it.”

The IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section and the Emergency Behavioral Health Alliance contributed to this report. The free report will be available during Fire-Rescue International, July 26-29, in Charlotte, N.C. and online at IAFC.org/VCOS.

About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. Learn more
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