NWCG restores previously removed video about firefighter mental health

Check it out before it is shut down again

Lone firefighter in smoke
Image from the “Wildland Firefighter Mental health” video.

Three months after it was removed from YouTube, today the National Wildfire Coordinating Group restored a video about mental health for firefighters. Previously it had been available for two months but not publicized. We learned about it on September 29, 2021 when @DOIWildlandFire encouraged people on Twitter to view it. Seeing that it was an excellent video that could potentially help thousands of emergency management personnel, we embedded it right away on Wildfire Today. Within 24 hours it was removed from YouTube, because, as @NWCG explained, it was “accidentally posted” and was not “finalized.”

Here is what we wrote on Sept. 29:

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group has published a video for firefighters about mental health. It features several former or current firefighters who have been trained as critical incident stress management peer supporters or CISM Clinicians.

@DOIWildlandFire tweeted about the video today, encouraging everyone to view it. The video was posted July 19, 2021 but as of today it has only been viewed 83 times, perhaps because it is “unlisted”.  We suggested to them that the status be changed, which should make it possible to search for it and also show up on lists of NWCG videos.

The presenters make an interesting point comparing physical fitness and mental fitness. As a firefighter you have to work at both of them, and they lay out several ways to stay mentally fit.

If you are a firefighter or the spouse or family member of one, spend 18 minutes watching this video.

It really is a very good video. Check it out before it is removed again. It’s below.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

5 thoughts on “NWCG restores previously removed video about firefighter mental health”

  1. The costs of acknowledging the need for help can be very high. Permanent.
    Especially if hospitalization or commitment, no matter how brief, is deemed to be necessary without the patient’s voluntary assent. The questions down the road “Have you [ever] … ” and from then on they become such they can mean almost anything. A-a-and down the road, the legal ramifications can change … they can get worse. Society is not finished with their historic brutalization of their wounded.

  2. Good film! This stuff really happens to people. Fifty years in fire. It happened to me mid career. The advice seems solid. I could relate to the old black and white film, not talking about it – the smokejumper, VV hand crew member and fire prevention tech and pictures of structure firefighters as people I have worked with.
    That’s how I got help – talking with a crew member in the back of the fire station. That got me started on getting better. Old incidents balled up inside my head. I was very sleep deprived. Started seeing things, drinking, I felt worthless.
    But it’s funny about life, you never know who is going to help you. Reach out, it’s OK to say “I feel screwed up, or yes I am drinking too much.” Whatever is happening to you. Nobody’s perfect. A Good Samaritan is coming down the road – probably one of the people you work with – and they will stop and help.

  3. This is a good video and discusses critical issues faced in the WFF community. I believe there is one thing that can be immediately implemented without adding to the overall complexity of the job. Eliminate the 2:1 work/rest policy. I believe this is a flawed policy and leads to sleep deprivation on day one. Go back to the 12 on and 12 off work shift. Working 16 hours and getting 8 off does not provide for 7 or 8 hours of sleep but more like 5 or 6 hours of sleep. Day after day of this leads everyone to sleep deprivation and impaired mental capacity, poor decisions, increased physical and mental stress and for what? It’s not necessary when you can easily switch to the 12 on and 12 off schedule which provides several more hours off shift for sleep, general rest, personal hygiene and proper meals. I wish this would be talked about more.

  4. Excellent film that in my estimation succinctly covers the basics for the need for an equal basis of mental fitness and physical fitness. Jim Duzak (mental health professional), does an excellent job of conveying emphasis of mental health prevention needs as a matter integral to WFF environments. Jim brings a measure of authenticity to the film, as many of us have worked with him directly on the Shots and Smj’s. I can also certainly attest to the need for integration of mental health education within the WFF organization, now since as a retired long term WFF (Shots/Heli/Smj), and mental health professional with trauma support/intervention experience with combat vets and others. And my own direct and indirect exposures to traumatic events on the job as a WFF, I am certain there are more personal experiences out there! NWCG should promote, not block this video for all intents and purposes

  5. I watched it and it seems to me that there is a disconnect between the people who made this video and the NPS/FS. The NPS/FS is not a safe space they will fire you if you come forward. These are not your friends. They are coworkers and they will betray you. You think you are suicidal now, wait til they put you on a PIP, wait til they fired you, wait til you have to go thru the EEOC/MSPB process. Oh, yeah, go to EAP for help and they will report back to the NPS/FS. My advice, go to a therapist that is not attached to EAP. Seriously, do not tell people at the NPS/FS. Find someone you trust that is not associated with the NPS/FS. I think this video will do more harm than good. No disrespect to the people on the video. I think they probably think they are doing a good thing, but the honest truth is the NPS/FS is not a safe space. Do not trust HR. They are only there to protect the managers. And to be completely honest they don’t care if you commit suicide. If fact, suicide makes their life easier. They don’t have to pay for your health care, counseling, your Fire Funeral, your retirement. Seriously, HR has numbers on how much they can save if you commit suicide. After I spoke up about sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, many people told me to kill myself…NO WAY…NEVER! For those of you who think about suicide, just think if you do it they win!!! Hold on to the good things in your life…Friends, Family, Dogs. Find another job. Listen to music! Dance like noone is watching! Breathing or tapping works for some, but there are a lot of different techniques to deal with the dark thoughts and that’s why therapy can help. Good luck! Peace!


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