Category Archives: Behavioral Health

Firefighters-An Overseer, A Noble Task Often Neglected

Firefighters- You are an Overseer, A Noble Task often neglected:

“Early on he worked more than 64 hours a week arriving home between 8 and 10 pm each night. The cost of the lifestyle was his marriage. ‘All I worked for was wiped out with one phone call to the divorce lawyer.” An excerpt from Faith on the Fire Line by Fellowship of Christian Firefighters.

The Fire Service is a demanding profession. For those who are blessed to be a part of this noble calling can often fall victim into the trap of ambition. At first, our efforts seem noble; after all we are bettering ourselves to serve our community which also helps to insure our safety thereby showing the utmost regard for our loved ones at home, right?

It starts with a spark and we are the tinder. Before we know we are a roaring fire. We are consuming everything in our path that is fuel: textbooks, conferences, classes, on-line material, and on and on…

But then something happens, we look forward at all of our accolades, knowledge, and skills but there is an emptiness that is creeping into our heart.

What is this?

Why do we feel this way?

It is conviction. In the midst of our search for success and helping others we have forgotten about our first priority: Our family

Another class that we teach and we miss another ball game….

Another hour at the desk late at night and our spouse falls asleep in tears feeling more and more alone…

Another conference we attend away from family, and our children are growing up…

Another promotion we earn and responsibility we take on, while our role at home is diminishing and fading…

And then we hit rock bottom…

The pinnacle of success is not the pinnacle of significance. A thousand lives impacted and saved on the fire ground while we neglect our own family is the ultimate hypocrisy that many of us, including myself, have tried to justify as “part of the job.”

Neglecting our family is not part of the job! Our ever increasing divorce rates should not be part of the job. How are we to serve the public and set the example of integrity if we fail to serve our loved ones at home?
It has to be a balance. God designed work but he also designed rest.

Exodus 34:21
21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest ;(AU) even during the plowing season and harvest (AV) you must rest.”

How much do we rest? Do we rest with our families? Or do we seek rest in other places away from them?

His plan for our life is to have a relationship with Him through Jesus, model that relationship within our families (our first crew), and then model that relationship to others.

As firefighters, we are “overseers”, those called to watch over others. It is a great responsibility but yet there is one greater: Our role as leaders in our family. They are our first crew. They are our home church. They are directly under our care and supervision.

As a husband or a wife, you have been given a great blessing and a responsibility. It is to take care of those in your household and lead them in the “way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)

Consider this:

1 Timothy 3: 1-5

Here is a trustworthy saying : Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife,temperate,self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

In closing, prayerfully consider this application-Balancing our checkbook:

In our lives, we must be careful that as we serve others that we do not forget about our most noble calling which is to love, serve, and lead our families.

Let us all take a moment, and perform a spreadsheet of the commitments in our lives. Begin by adding the hours that we work (all of our jobs), the hours we sleep, the hours dedicated to other commitments (studies, writing, extracurricular activities, time away from home, etc.) and then perform this simple equation:

168 hours in a week –Work-sideline job- sleep-extra activities & commitments=time we have left over.

24 hours X 7 days: 168 hours

Average Firefighter work week: 56 hours

Sideline job: 30 hours a week

Average Firefighter sleep cycle: (4-6 hours a night) 48 hours a week (should be 56 hours a week to be healthy)

Extra Curricular Activities: Gym, writing, school: 10 hours a week

This leaves 24 hours a week for our families. Or to put it in terms that really hit home, 3.85 hours a day with our loved ones!

In our homes and in life this isn’t a guarantee that those 3.85 hours means that everyone will magically be there to spend time with us. What about their commitments? Your spouse’s job, your children’s school and activities. What about life?

Now how much time do we really have with our loved ones?
They say, if you want to know what is most important to you in life start by looking at your checkbook. Whatever receives the most of our financial capabilities is usually the most important. Let us, all look at our ‘checkbook’ of life and start managing our ‘life resources’ more in line with what is most important to us:

Our families.

The Vent Group

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries-The Vent Group:

The Invitation:

Have you ever felt the pressures of life, the job, and stress mounting up to such a point that you felt you were going to explode?

We know that pressurized cylinders & containers have devices in place to relieve the pressure if the pressure reaches a dangerous level. These PRV’s are there to help alleviate the pressure and bring things back to a manageable level.

Bringing Back Brotherhood is offering a very simple concept to firefighters. It is called the Vent Group.
We are in the process of gathering fire service leaders to serve as Vent Group Supervisors. They will conduct a video conference on a fire service topic and model how the group should be coordinated.

It is our goal to help develop groups like these across the country for firefighters. It will be a place to relieve pressure, receive encouragement, and support.

Are you interested in being a vent group supervisor? Are you interested in being a part of a vent group? Let us help you help one another.

It is our mission; will you be a part of it?

 

 

The Vent Group: How to get involved

The Vent Group will be made up of 5-7 fire service members (including the Vent Group Supervisor).

The Vent Group Supervisor will be responsible for setting up the Vent Group Assignment. These groups will meet every four weeks. The meeting will last between 30 minutes up to and not to exceed 1 hour. If the group feels that they did not finish or give adequate attention to the topic they will resume the discussion in their next meeting.

Each group can meet face to face if their schedules permit or the Vent Group Supervisor can schedule a Vent Group Assignment via their choice: Google Hangout, Skype, Goto meeting.

The Vent Group’s topics for discussion will be determined after the first meeting. Each member will introduce themselves and voice any particular topic they would like to discuss. After the meeting the Vent Group Supervisor will have taken extensive notes on each member and pray about the topics to discuss over the next year. Each topic should build upon the last. Each discussion should establish greater trust, comfort, and encouragement as you move forward. These discussions are to serve as a place for the fire service member to get things off their chest and to hear someone’s words of comfort not criticism.

An example of a 12 month topic discussion could be this:

1)      Introductions, background, particular topics of interest

2)      How did you get involved in the fire service?

3)      What was your first incident that you had difficulty dealing with?

4)      Suicide, LODD’s, Disasters, tragic death of a child, etc

5)      Where do we go from here? Sharing pain and helping them see that they are not alone

6)      Where do you struggle?(go over symptoms of PTSD) Irritability, lack of sleep, dreams/nightmares, avoidance, detachment from family/friends, marital issues, hallucinations, substance abuse, difficulty concentrating

7)      Forgiveness-Forgiving yourself, others, and asking God for His

8)      Reconciliation-Using tragedy and personal experiences to lift others up

9)      Writing their testimony

10)  Preparing them to lead others

11)  Situational Awareness-Now that you have been through a group setting, who do you know that could benefit from what you have learned?

12)  Sharing the Gospel and Multiply the effort-

 

 

 

Vent Group Supervisor:

A fire service leader, mentor, who is respected and cannot be directly connected to any of the individuals in the group by department, relation, or position of bias. Preferrably someone trained in CISM, counseling, ministry,

Vent Group Supervisor must:

1)      Possess good people skills ability to read the room and know how to keep the process moving forward.

2)      Have served in a leadership position with significant background experience in dealing with personnel issues and conflict resolution.

3)      Be an individual of integrity. The Vent Group Supervisor isn’t perfect but they must be exemplifying the characteristics of a mentor. They have suffered much therefore they have much to offer. There is no testimony without a test.

4)      Be willing to share but most of all be willing to listen, encourage, comfort, and motivate

 

The Vent Group Supervisor’s roles and responsibilities- Pick a topic to discuss that is personally related to him/her and the fire service. This topic must be something The Vent Group Supervisor has personal experience with. He/She will open the group by welcoming everyone, brief intros if necessary, and then introduce the topic.

The vent group supervisor will then share a very personal testimony about the topic. It requires someone who is willing to be vulnerable. In order for others to trust you with their wounds they first must see yours. This should take no longer than 5-10 minutes.

The Vent Group Supervisor will then facilitate discussion but not force it. If a member isn’t comfortable yet do not beat them into opening up. This is not a “fix it” group. It is a place of comfort, confidentiality, and encouragement.

This environment is a ministry effort. We will be upfront with each member that it is led by Christian men and women. We will tell them in the very beginning that it is our hope that they would have a close and personal relationship with Christ but we will not shove it down there throat. The Gospel is meant to be shared not shoved.

This environment will first cultivate the soil of there soil as to prepare their hearts for the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is a process of sharing our personal testimony then the word of God. It is by telling our personal “Jesus story” that we will share His love. It is ultimately up to God and their heart to decide if they want to take the next step but it is our responsibility to share His love.

 The Vent Group Supervisor will remind the group throughout the discussion of the basic ground rules.

 

 

Vent Group Rules:

*Absolute Confidentiality

When discussing personal issues names of individuals and department names must be omitted. The group will not share any of these issues or topics outside of itself with only one exception. If any individual threatens to harm themselves or another individual it will be reported. We are not mental health professionals and will seek to save our own if the need arises.

* Speech: Profanity is not encouraged but if someone has a loose moment we will not criticize them. As fire service professionals we understand the pain and the language that often comes with it. We want to encourage the members to open up even if at first it’s a little rough on ourselves. The Vent Group Supervisor will remind them that their prayer is to have a heart big enough to hurt with them but not absorb their pain.

* Be Nice-When one individual is sharing there will be no firehouse banter or jokes about their story. We will not allow quick fix answers. This simply invalidates the person and makes them feel small. Their problem is important to them and it is more important for them to talk through it then for you to fix it. Negative or Angry speech towards anyone within the group will be grounds for removal from the group.