How To Help Your Department With These Resources

The #1 request we get is “How can we bring this to our department?”

Behind this request is something like this….

  • A department that has seen tragic loss thru suicide
  • An officer and / or their wife who knows the heartbreaking details of what their first responders are struggling with
  • Someone in that department who has been to the valley and overcome and knows that prevention is everything
  • A wife who nearly lost everything because of (PTS, addiction, overworking, numbing and other behaviors)
  • Another therapist / counselor who’s focused in on the first responder life… because the need is just bigger

The best step is this….

Develop an intentional mission with resources and programs to bring not just healing but preventative care to their members and families through:

  • First responder specific counseling and treatment
  • Ongoing training
  • Peer support
  • Building a culture of wellness.

If this is your department and chief, the best step is to bring paid professionals to train your department directly (either onsite or online) and extend the support programs you have in place. If you have a budget for this, complete this form and our outreach team will be in touch quickly.

However if you landed on this page, budget and department willingness may be missing. Still, everyone can play a role. Here’s how.

First, understand what’s blocking the path to first responder wellness in your department

Even when the department and chief highly value the welfare of their first responders and families, one of these challenges can still get in the way.

“There’s no budget for mental health training for first responders, let alone their families.”

(and we can’t even get updated gear / equipment for basic safety)

“Here’s an EAP number to call.”

(Good. But it’s just not enough. Finding a good counselor is hard. Picking up the phone the first time is even harder.)

{ Officer response: *** ignore *** avoid *** }

(i.e. pretend-it’s-not-an-issue-because-my-own-marriage-is-falling-apart )

The department is doing a LOT of great things but it’s just not enough. There’s just not enough time, energy or resources.

You DO bring the resources but no one uses them or attends.

(it could be the stigma but truly, it takes a lot of vulnerability to admit when help is needed and this is a place of employment – it feels like jobs are at stake – so very few actually step up for preventative care.)

Here’s how to bring help to your department, even when the resources lack and the resistance is strong. came into existence out of happenstance. One raw, vulnerable blog post in 2012 touched the hearts of many who said “oh my goodness someone who understands my life.”

Since then, we’ve created a repository of resources and aligned with professional counselors trained specifically in mental health services for First Responders.

This is your guide for how to use these resources to bring life-changing help to your department and save a life.

Once you’ve seen the inside of the ugly and watched someone climb out of that pit, you get it. You have personal accountability to bring that to others.



Honestly, most people don’t even know what’s out there, or think to find it when they most need it. It takes a lot of repetition and reminding.

Here are the immediate help resources you can share to your department:

Here’s how to share them:

This is the trick to awareness. The resources need to be in front of people often.

1. Link each of those key resources on your department website

  • Don’t bury the links. Make them easy to find and get to.

2. Email

  • Add them to your email footer
  • Have an ongoing email to your department and regularly cycle each of these resource links in it

3. Flyers

  • It feels old school but a good flyer that stands out on the station bulletin board is still very effective.
    • We are working on new ones and will link them here soon!
  • If you want to get really bold…. Mail them home (like yeah, US Postal service in an envelope)

4. Word of Mouth



This is not a quick fix but long term relationship building. Often we see very passionate players in this space run around with bullhorns and battle rams. We get it. Lives are at stake. And you’ve maybe been personally hurt by these situations. Approaching it as a professional is key.

Here are some tips for how to do this well:

  • Get to know the officers, leaders, HR and other department roles that have the decision making ability to enhance services.
  • Stay objective in your views and discussions. No one disagrees on the importance of this topic. But the ways to present the case require wisdom and professionalism in order to bring the biggest change
  • City councils, mayors, trustees and the like are decision makers as well. Keep in mind the big picture of their city budgets and decisions.

Don’t do this:

  • If you are a spouse, and not an employee of the department, do not overstep your bounds.  Ultimately, it’s a place of employment (and yes also a public service entity).  In organizations like this, change most effectively comes from within the organization, not outside.  Build the right relationships to influence their decisions.
  • Judge, blame, criticize or get defensive with your passion.  Assume everyone is doing their best.   Do stay classy.


Sometimes, all we need to do is ask (the right person, at the right moment, in the right way)

Unions often have funds set aside to help a fire family in a crisis. These have been applied towards marriage trainings, retreats and more.

Some officers may have discretionary budgets that can be applied to programs like these.

Be clear and specific about what you are asking for:

  • Money to pay for trainings or ongoing programs
  • Space for holding trainings
  • Support communicating the availability of programs


In areas with smaller departments, regional training is very common. This takes more concerted effort but can bring high quality professionals into your area to reach many first responders.

(and yes combining police and fire support makes a lot of sense here!)



This is often the first place a spouse goes when wanting to bring support. Well run family / spouse support groups can be a huge help. They also require a lot of heavy lifting and can result in politics, drama and frustration. Enter this step intentionally and wisely.

If you are a paid department, these groups are both wanted and dreaded – know which way your officers and union lean.

We are preparing a more complete resource to help you start a support group soon but in the meantime here are some key points:

  • Set clear goals and guidelines for your group and stick to them (boundaries are key!)
    • Is it for social support and building community?
    • Is your goal purely in the mental wellness space or broader?
    • Are you trying to raise funds for something specific?
  • EVERYONE should be welcomed. Don’t get social and clique-y. It’s already hard enough in the fire life space.
  • If money is being exchanged, run it through a legal entity not a person. Sometimes a union will allow this. Sometimes you need your own 501c3
    • Before taking that step, understand the weight of the effort and decide…. Is managing money our goal? Or is it simply social / life support?
  • Don’t try to do it alone. Get a committee and support.
  • Don’t overcommit. Schedules are already a disaster right? Too many commitments and it won’t succeed.

If you are a volunteer department, the rules are looser and often these departments rely on volunteer support from people like you.



When it feels like all of those roads are blocked, remember that at the end of the day, the right words spoken to the right person in the right moment can change a life.

Be available for those who need a “soft place to land”.
Be the safe person for vulnerability.
Don’t take on their pain, hurt, wounding and responsibility – but hold space for it. Listen and help them know there are professionals who can help.

We hear you and see your passion. It’s through individuals like you that cultures are shifted.



This Fire Family Training teaches strategies for navigating the stress and trauma a first responder life brings to your relationship and family.


Be sure to download this free guide from for all who are new to the fire life or who want a quick reference refresher. Fire Life 101 walks you through managing the stress and worry and celebrating the awesomeness of living the fire life.


Does life feel out of control and you or your first responder need help now?

Or maybe… you just don’t know and need to talk to someone who gets it.

Every request is confidential.

Let’s start a conversation.


Our Fire Wife Academy gives the tools and resources needed for families to create the fire life that works for them.

Departments, offer this Fire Wife Academy to your next set of recruits’ partners to set them up for success.


That big day is finally (or at least almost) here! We know you’ve been counting it down. But still there are a LOT of details to get in order. For your firefighter and you.

Free training sponsored by 100 club of AZ.

Honor and Commitment

Standard Life Operating Guidelines for Firefighters & Their Families

This book goes beyond general self-help, relationship, or household tips and goes straight to the heart of the firefighter family.  This book is great for both Firefighters, and their spouses. 

In this book, you’ll find:

  • Real-life stories from firefighter families, that only someone like you can relate to.
  • Time-tested, realistic advice on everything from managing family schedules to what to do at home after a difficult call.
  • Discussion questions to open up communication with your first family or your firefighter family.
  • Support during the times when your marriage feels challenged by the fire life, and the encouragement and straightforward guidance you need to keep your connection strong.
  • Carefully-chosen resources to help your whole family thrive.

Available in eBook and paperback