NVFC Awarded Grant From FEMA to Support Emergency Responder Behavioral Health

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has been awarded a Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) grant by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to further its firefighter health and safety initiatives and reduce line-of-duty injuries and deaths.

FP&S grants are part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program and support projects that enhance the safety of the public and firefighters from fire and related hazards. This is the seventeenth FP&S grant the NVFC has been awarded. Thanks to funding from these grants, the NVFC has been able to implement groundbreaking programs, including the Share the Load behavioral health support program and Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program, as well as release critical resources and training relating to cancer prevention, vehicle safety, culture change, injury prevention, and more.

Firefighting is one of the most physically and mentally demanding activities a person can do. Emergency responders see traumatic events on a regular basis, putting them at risk for many behavioral health challenges, including acute and post-traumatic stress, anxiety, relationship challenges, addiction, suicidal thoughts, and more. The NVFC works to facilitate culture change, reduce stigma, and offer support relating to the mental wellbeing of firefighters, EMS providers, rescue workers, and their families.

With the new two-year grant, the NVFC will build on its Psychologically Healthy Fire Departments (PHFD) initiative. This initiative provides first responders and their families with access to behavioral health providers who are ready and trained to assist them and educates department leaders on how to support the wellbeing of their members. The grant will enable the NVFC to update the Directory of Behavioral Health Professionals into an interactive, easily accessible, web-based tool; provide training to behavioral health professionals on the specific needs of emergency responders; and train fire service leaders on how to foster a culture of wellbeing in their department.

“The health and safety of our nation’s volunteer responders are of the utmost importance to the NVFC,” said NVFC chair Steve Hirsch. “We thank FEMA for providing us this grant so that we can continue to support the wellbeing of those who serve and ensure that they remain at their best so they can have a successful, fulfilling, and healthy volunteer career.”

“Our first responders put themselves at risk to protect us in emergencies and times of crisis, and it’s our responsibility to support them. That includes providing tailored behavioral health resources that recognize the unique forms of mental health stress associated with the demanding jobs they do,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. “I’m proud to deliver this federal investment to NVFC to help them continue supporting the wellbeing of our emergency workers. I’m grateful for the sacrifices they make every day and will continue working to provide federal resources to help them fulfill their important mission.”

Learn more about the NVFC’s behavioral health initiatives, including the Psychologically Healthy Fire Departments initiative, at www.nvfc.org/help.

About the NVFC
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) is the leading nonprofit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services. The NVFC serves as the voice of the volunteer in the national arena and provides critical resources, programs, education, and advocacy for first responders across the nation. Learn more at www.nvfc.org.