September 8, 2018
Brothers and Sisters,
This month’s magazine cover is dedicated to the fight of curbing Firefighter suicide. We have seen a dramatic increase in Firefighter suicide in recent years. We are known as the fraternal brotherhood and sisterhood that take care of the citizens of Los Angeles County. Why are we unable to take care of ourselves? We have to ask ourselves, “What is causing our family to fracture?” Many around the table want to place blame on the loss of the team cohesion in the stations, and increased work hours. As a Fire Captain, I see their point. On the other hand, I also believe there should be no blame placed in this crisis. We as an organization need to come together for this cause. This affects all of us through the ranks up to The Fire Chief. We need to work together with support and outside help to combat this crisis.
As the President of The Fireman’s Benefit & Welfare Association, I will be working with mental health professionals to put together a toolbox on the B&W website so that a person in crisis or family member of that person in crisis has an immediate 100% anonymous conversation with a mental health professional. This proposal sets aside funding for our members to get the initial help they need to avert crisis. This has become our number one priority. It’s what our association is founded on. (“The welfare of its members”) We as brothers and sisters also need to be vigilant and not overlook some of the signs of PTSD, which can lead to depression and substance abuse.
The Safety Stand Down last September, was a step in the right direction for our department to acknowledge this crisis. I understand The Department in conjunction with The Board of Supervisors and Local 1014 are ironing out a Mental Health supplement for our Firefighters. These are all steps in the right direction. We need to use these new tools that we have been given, to get back to helping each other out. Whether you are an FSA or a Deputy Fire Chief we have to remember that we all wear the County Bear over our left pocket. Let’s start taking care of one another and put a stop to Firefighter suicide.