IAFF members are called to respond to high-pressure situations every day, risking their own health and safety to care for others.

As we start the new year, this is a good opportunity to remind members that the IAFF has resources to help handle the day-to-day challenges associated with the job.

Fire fighters experiencing symptoms of post -traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should not ignore them. Training, experience, fire fighter mentality, firehouse camaraderie and discussing tragedies with your fire fighter family can provide a buffer against developing PTSD. Here are some other tips that can help.

We are currently developing a new behavioral health program that will be web based training and offer treatment options for the fire service. This program will provide an on-line venue where fire departments can gather information on behavioral health programs and resources. Web links to other behavioral health related materials and downloads will be included so fire fighters will be able to capitalize on the experiences of others and contact those who are managing such programs.

The IAFF’s Fit to Survive web page is also a good source for exercise, health and nutrition information. Plan to eat healthy and find plenty of recipes that will help with maintaining your waistline, while reducing stress.

Heart attacks are the most frequent cause of death among fire fighters, according to the US Fire Administration.The IAFF stresses the importance of prevention, early detection and treatment of heart disease. The International has a wealth of information available in conjunction with the Fire Service Joint Labor-Management Wellness-Fitness Initiative (WFI). The WFI provides best practices for annual medical evaluations, fitness evaluations, injury and medical rehabilitation and behavioral health assistance. Visit the WFI Resource site for the tools to help implement the WFI in your fire department.

Finally, help promote a collegial atmosphere at your fire station.

Laughter often keeps stress away.