NVFC Releases Toolkit to Help Fire Service Leaders Create Healthy, High-Performing Departments

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), in partnership with the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, launched the Psychologically Healthy Fire Departments (PHFD) initiative to support firefighters and EMS providers and create healthy, successful departments. A new implementation toolkit is now available to help fire department leaders promote and foster well-being among their members.

Maintaining a psychologically healthy fire department provides a positive work environment for responders while enhancing department performance. The Psychologically Healthy Fire Departments: Implementation Toolkit delves into six categories leaders should focus on to support well-being and high performance: member involvement, health and safety, member growth and development, work-life balance, member recognition, and effective communication. The toolkit examines each category along with specific actions that can be taken, special issues to consider, case studies from successful departments, and additional resources.

“A department that supports its members and is committed to fostering a positive work environment has a healthier, engaged, and more successful workforce,” said NVFC Chair Steve Hirsch. “This implementation toolkit will walk fire department leaders through the steps and considerations necessary to make sure they have a psychologically healthy fire department that benefits the individual, the organization, and the community.”

The PHFD: Implementation Toolkit is based on APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace model and was adapted to fit the unique characteristics of the fire service. Fire service leaders who understand the link between the well-being of their members and the performance and success of the department take comprehensive steps to create a positive environment that supports and promotes good health and optimal functioning.

“Psychological research shows workplaces that promote good mental health and work-life balance are associated with increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and higher job satisfaction,” said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD. “We commend the National Volunteer Fire Council for creating this toolkit and distributing it to its members.”

The PHFD initiative is supported by a Fire Prevention & Safety Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In addition to the implementation toolkit, resources include a Directory of Behavioral Health Professionals that lists local mental health providers equipped and ready to help firefighters, EMS providers, dispatchers, rescue workers, and their families. The directory is updated monthly as new providers are added and can be viewed or downloaded on the PHFD webpage. A training course to supplement the PHFD: Implementation Toolkit is also being developed.

Download the PHFD: Implementation Toolkit and learn more about the PHFD initiative at www.nvfc.org/phfd.