Friends of Firefighters

Outreach for FDNY continues to grow and expand

May 20, 2015

Since their last update, FoF has continued to provide mental health services to FDNY firefighters and their family members in each borough. After expanding several of their wellness services, they now offer acupuncture services in the Staten Island satellite office and Manhattan, and biofeedback in Manhattan. The Bronx office also now offers appointments in financial guidance. Fof continues to strive to make their services more accessible geographically and therefore assist in meeting needs and building resilience.

They write, "We are also continuing to offer support via our On the Line Hotline, a 24/7 hotline specifically available to FDNY firefighters and their family members and an Internet Counseling Program, a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy counseling program available on line, and therefore at one's fingertips at whatever time."

The New York City firefighter community was particularly impacted by the fatal fire of March 21, 2015 where seven children died. Dennis Smith, a retired FDNY firefighter commented that while firefighters would never compare their grief to that of the families, “Still, our pain is real, and we must absorb it and move on to the next job.” This comment underscores the cumulative effect of multiple traumas as well as the coping style of most firefighters--they necessarily "move on". Friends of Firefighters, on the other hand, stands ready to provide services via the Outreach Team, Peer Support Program, and Mental Health and Wellness services.

Outreach is a critical conduit to mental health services for firefighters. Fof's Outreach Team travels from firehouse to firehouse talking about the availability of services they offer and educate the population about the value of mental health services. Outreach workers are not counselors, but their work is essential since the continual reaching out that they do is the only way to succeed in reaching the target population. They make help more available, more accessible, and more user-friendly. The Outreach Team knows when to stay for lunch and when to simply drop off brochures and information. It is their job to visit each firehouse several times a year in order to meet the different tours or shifts, and to continue to remind them of the services provided.

Lastly, the Annual Fall Gala is just around the corner! Mark your calendars- October 16, 2015.