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Are you ready for retirement?

THE MOST CHALLENGING SHIFT YOU’LL WORK

Preparing for public safety retirement

 

By Shirl Tyner

Some people think about it from time to time. Some people dream about it. Some people can’t even imagine it. Some people already did it. What, you ask? Retirement. Are you ready?

 

After a career in public safety, you probably have an idea of the legacy you’ve built and the effect your departure will have on the agency. But have you thought about the impact leaving will have on you? Public safety agencies prepare for retirements though succession plans, but most do a very poor job preparing the actual retirees. And this matters, because retirement is not easy.

 

Dying for the Job

Perhaps public safety retirement is not easy because working in public safety itself is not easy. We lack good statistics about suicide among public safety personnel, but what we do know is alarming. Police and firefighters rank sixth on the Center for Disease Control’s list of occupations by suicide. One study showed firefighters are three times more likely to die from suicide than a line-of-duty death, and the number of firefighters lost to suicide has increased each year for the last five years. The Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance has documented 175 firefighter retiree suicides—36 of whom took their lives in the first week of retirement.

 

It’s even worse for law enforcement. The occupational fatality rate of law enforcement officers is three to five times greater than the national average. As John Violanti documented in his 2014 book, Dying for the Job, male officers commit suicide at a rate 8.3 times greater than those who are murdered on the job, 3.1 times greater than those killed in work accidents, and 4 times greater than firefighters.

 

Contributing factors to suicide by public safety employees include:

  • Shift work and sleep disorders. In addition to increasing your risk of arteriosclerosis, hypertension and cardiac problems, shift work has a recognized impact on psychological health. Officers working non-day shifts are 14 times more likely to sleep less than 6 hours per day and a 40-year-old study of suicide links shift work with suicidal ideation.
  • Alcohol abuse. Although studies vary, some have shown as many as 25 percent of law enforcement officers in the United States abuse alcohol. Firefighters binge drink twice as often as the general population.
  • PTSD and emotional trauma. Often, alcohol abuse among public safety personnel is an attempt to escape the emotional suffering of the job. None of us is immune to the stress caused by a career’s worth of emergency calls. For some, that stress becomes debilitating.

 

These contributing factors don’t disappear with retirement. In fact, they may get worse. In a way, retiring from public safety is much like a grieving process. We have made differences in people’s lives and when we retire it’s easy to lose that sense of purpose and believe our lives no longer have the same value. We feel like something has been taken from us and we lose our identity.

 

Note: Among all these statistics about firefighters and law enforcement officers, what is missing? If you said civilian employees, volunteers, support staff, EMTs, nurses, etc., you’re right! The number of people affected goes way up when you include—as we should—all members of public safety.

 

The Next Big Change

When we think about retirement, we think about the things we look forward to doing—travel, reading, sports, time with friends, church, volunteering and maybe even a part-time job. These are all wonderful ideas, but for public safety employees, retirement can be extremely difficult. Many public safety employees cannot even picture themselves outside the job. This isn’t what we do but who we are.

 

So when you retire, what will you miss? For starters, the people. This is a family, your family, one you’ve never been without and never want to be without. You’ll miss your partners, those you have worked beside and counted on, vented to, protected and leaned on, the ones who always had your back. There’s also the activity—the sights, smells, touches and tastes. Let’s not forget that adrenaline rush, hearing the dispatcher over the radio and the rush of getting to the call. And being part of something so great, something you never imagined being without.

 

Retirement is the next great adventure after all this. But it’s a mistake to look at your life and see a clear dividing line between your life in public safety and your life after public safety. In fact, retirement is another in a series of changes you’ve been experiencing your entire life.

 

Believe it or not, you have changed during your career. And I’m not just talking about your physique! You have changed physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Maybe you’ve put on a few pounds. Have you grown more sluggish or more alert over the years? Has your faith become deeper and more personal, or has it waned? How do you deal with emotional turmoil now compared to 20 or 30 years ago?

 

Remember when you promoted? You probably asked your friends and family to not ever let you forget where you came from. You wanted to promote and be the best supervisor you could be, but you never wanted to be “one of them.” Now is a good time to remind yourself of that.

 

When you look at retirement as another in a series of changes, it’s possible to be as excited about retiring as you were about entering public safety when you were younger. Knowing that you have changed, believe that you can and will change again—mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. You are no longer part of your job even though the job is a huge part of who you have become. And that is not necessarily a bad thing.

 

Preparing Yourself

Retirement requires preparation. The more you plan, the smoother this transition will go. Here are just a few considerations:

 

  • Think about how you’ll spend your free time. Maybe it’s a second career, additional education or time with the grandkids. When you retire, you no longer answer to the clock or the phone. You have more free time than ever before. You have more time for that “honey do” list, and more time to spend with family and friends. And while free time is nice, it can also be terrifying to face an endless series of days with nothing you have to do.
  • Discuss your schedule change with your family. Sure, they have always wished you didn’t work at night or on the holidays and they want you home more often. But when you retire you must fit into their schedules. Their schedules didn’t change, yours did. Do you fit or are you interfering?
  • Prepare for a change in income. Even with a pension, retirement requires a clear-eyed look at your finances. You may need to see a financial counselor and develop a budget that accounts for expenses such as travel and healthcare.
  • Expect a hard hit. If you’re lucky, you won’t experience an emotional toll, but it’s best to be prepared for the loss of friends, loneliness, the feeling you’ve been forgotten and the concern that you didn’t leave the legacy you strived for. Exercise self-care and seek help if you see warning signs, such as emotional detachment, depression, spending too much alone time, abusing alcohol or drugs, or trying to stay involved in the job when you no longer have a place there.

 

Make sure you are ready to retire and don’t give in to outside influences. Go when you know the time is right for you! Don’t make a rushed, emotional decision. You’ve always controlled your career, now you must control your retirement—and your preparation for it.

 

Make It Count

It is easy to forget how much we love being needed until we no longer are. Watching the lights and hearing the sirens go somewhere without you is a bittersweet experience. Curiosity about the call, memories of past calls, and the desire to help all flood in.

 

Now, those of you who can’t wait to retire and don’t have to worry about any of this, I say hallelujah and lucky you! For the rest of us, attitude is everything. It is the key to understanding you are not who you were, that you earned this retirement and that you deserve to enjoy it. So, make it count! You love what you do or you would not be doing it. You were born with a servant’s heart. How can you put that to work in your retirement? After all, it’s retirement, not death!

 

As Charles Swindoll said, life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it. We may not be able to stop retirement from coming, but we can choose how we react to it.

 

So here’s to a happy, healthy retirement—and on to the greatest adventure of all!

 

Lexipol’s  Fire Policies and Daily Training Bulletin Service provides essential policies that support safe fire service operations.  Contact us today to find out more.

 

Shirl Tyner is a Management Services Representative for Lexipol and has 25 years of law enforcement experience as a civilian (non-sworn) employee, serving with the Oceanside (CA) Police Department and the Tustin (CA) Police Department. Shirl has experience as a Trauma Intervention Volunteer and has been heavily involved in peer support, with a special focus on PTSD. A graduate of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Leadership Institute, she has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Forensics and Crime Scene Investigations and is currently working on a master’s degree in Forensic Science. Shirl teaches Criminal Justice and Forensic courses at both the high school and college levels.

NFPA 3000 standard released in May

NFPA releases the world’s first active shooter/hostile event standard with guidance on whole community planning, response, and recovery

Timely, critical document was developed with insight from law enforcement, fire, EMS, medical providers, facility managers, private industry, DHS, the CIA, FBI and others

May 1, 2018 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released NFPA 3000TM (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter / Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program to help communities holistically deal with the fast-growing number of mass casualty incidents that continue to occur throughout the world. Serving as the first of its kind, NFPA 3000 provides unified planning, response and recovery guidance, as well as civilian and responder safety considerations.

“The NFPA 3000 process, from start to finish, has been an exceptional example of emergency responders and other safety-focused practitioners swiftly coming together to provide invaluable perspective and address a significant threat in our world,” NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley said. “The proactive, integrated strategies recommended and defined in NFPA 3000 will go a long way in helping communities plan, respond and recover from active shooter and hostile events.”

This marks only the second time in NFPA’s 122-year history that they have issued a provisional standard. Provisional standards are developed in an expedited process to address an emergency situation or other special circumstance.

After the Pulse Nightclub massacre in June of 2016, Chief Otto Drozd of Orange County Fire in Florida requested that NFPA develop a standard to help authorities come together and create a well-defined, cohesive plan that works to minimize harm and maximize resiliency. NFPA responded by establishing the NFPA Technical Committee on Cross Functional Emergency Preparedness and Response. In mid-April, NFPA 3000 was issued by the NFPA Standards Council, making it the first consensus document related to active shooter and hostile events.

The 46-member Technical Committee responsible for NFPA 3000 is NFPA’s largest startup Committee, to date, with representation from law enforcement, the fire service, emergency medical services, hospitals, emergency management, private security, private business, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Justice, and many more. Committee members provided job-specific insight and real world observations from mass killings at Mandalay Bay Resort, Pulse Nightclub, Sandy Hook Elementary, the Sikh Temple, the Boston Marathon, and other less publicized events.

NFPA 3000 helps entire communities organize, manage, communicate, and sustain an active shooter/hostile event preparedness, response, and recovery program. In addition to offering NFPA 3000 via a new digital subscription – which will be updated automatically when the next edition becomes available – NFPA is offering an Online Training Series (the first of three courses are available now); a downloadable checklist; a readiness assessment document; and fact sheet for authorities to learn more about establishing a proactive, collaborative active shooter/hostile event program.

Some have asked why NFPA would be the organization to develop an active shooter standard. “For more than a century, NFPA has facilitated a respected consensus process that has produced some of the most widely used codes and standards in the world including more than 100 that impact first responders. Our purview goes far beyond our fire safety efforts as evidenced by our ongoing work to address new hazards with professionals in public safety, emergency management, community risk, electrical services, the energy sector, engineering, the chemical and industrial industries, healthcare, manufacturing, research, the government, and the built environment. The recent increase in active shooter incidents and the fire service involvement in them warranted NFPA’s standards development expertise, and the timely development of NFPA 3000,” Pauley said.

NFPA 3000 cover artwork is available online. For this release and other announcements about NFPA initiatives, research and resources, please visit the NFPA press room.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

Firefighter safety in warmer weather

FIREFIGHTER SAFETY IN WARMER WEATHER

By Scott Eskwitt

As we come into the spring months, it’s a good time to review some Lexipol policies relevant to the changing weather and firefighter safety conditions. The changing weather conditions create special issues impacting operations, personnel performance and firehouse safety. Additionally, remember your equipment needs specific attention both at the scene and back at the station.

Following are some policy areas to review with your crew in advance of responses that come with warmer weather conditions. Understanding their application will enhance firefighter safety and improve fire operations.

General Operations Incident Management: As the weather begins to warm, consider planning for personnel to establish and staff a Rehab Division upon arrival to a scene where investigation or operations may continue for longer than 30 minutes.

Emergency Response: Drivers should be aware of the potential for rapidly changing road conditions, including bridges freezing before roads, melting snow or freezing rain. The area around the station may be dry, but road conditions can change en route. Set engine retarders and traction controls according to department policy and as conditions dictate.

Swiftwater Rescue and Flood Search and Rescue Responses: With runoff from winter snowpack, local waterways may flow at a higher level and faster rate than normal, catching pedestrians and motorists off guard. Personnel should be reminded to wear appropriate PPE, including personal flotation devices. Only personnel trained for water search and rescue should participate in these operations.

Wildland Firefighting: Dry conditions already exist in many areas of the country and other areas are drying quickly. Refresher training on wildland fire tactics and response should be given to personnel.

Staging: When possible, avoid staging over running water from melting snow or ice. Consider staging away from surrounding conditions that could cause other vehicles to lose control or create unsafe conditions for personnel or apparatus.

Training Wildland Fire Shelter Deployment: Fire shelter deployment training should be provided for all personnel who respond to wildland fire incidents. A review of National Wildfire Coordinating Group pamphlet #2710 “The New Generation Fire Shelter” as well as practical exercises should be included.

 

This informative article is provided by our strategic partner Lexipol.

Strategic Partner 2018

 

Passing of former President of IAFC-Southwestern Division

It is with great sorrow and sadness that we announce the passing of one of our beloved members of the IAFC, former President and past Secretary/Treasurer of the Southwestern Division Fire Chief Ray Clark.  Chief Clark held the position as Secretary/Treasurer for over 30 years.  Within this time, he saw many changes to the IAFC and the Division.  He had a very deep love and respect for the IAFC and his fellow members. He wanted to see the Division grow and flourish.   Although Chief Clark’s loss will certainly be felt by the many friends and loved ones he had across the country, the legacy he has left behind in the amerian fire service has indeed made an last impression for this and future generations of fire service leaders. 

Mr. Clark passed away May 14, 2018. Ray had many titles throughout his life including Boat Captain, Electrical Engineer, Square Dance Caller, Volunteer Fire Chief, Jack-of-all Trades and Pastor. He was best known as a husband, father, brother-in-law, gran-daddy and great gran-daddy. Ray worked at Sandia National Labs for 30 years. Ray was active in the Bernalillo County Fire Department and Fire District #6, International Association of Fire Chiefs, United Methodist Church, Disciples of Christ Church and NM Shriners’. He is survived by wife his of 56 years, Beth; his daughter, Bett Clark (Chrissie Gerding); daughter, Rebecca Jee (Chuck); grandson, Raymond Jee (Clara); granddaughter, Monique Jee (Chris Chavez); great grandchildren, Aiden and Adele Jee; and special friends, Troy and Marsha Humble, and Lorenzo and Jen Abrahm.

He was our rock and the wisest man any of us ever knew. The most important lesson he ever taught us was to love everyone unconditionally whether a random couple in a restaurant or stranger walking down the street and he showed compassion for everyone. Ray believed in working hard and putting your heart and soul into everything you do. He always said to leave room for dessert and taught his grandkids that it was OK to eat ice cream first. We will always cherish the plethora of memories we have of him and hope his friends will do the same. The family wishes to give deep and heartfelt thanks to the staff of Kaseman Hospice who assisted in the transition of his life with loving care, support and hugs.

Ray has been cremated and all are invited to his Celebration of Life to be held on Saturday, June 9, 2018, 2:00 p.m. at Los Altos Christian Church, 11900 Haines Street NE. Ray gave generously to the community and were great supporters of Shriner’s Medical, Shriner’s Hospital for Children and Veterans Integration Services, Albuquerque, NM. Memorial donations may be made to those charities or the charity of your choice.

Passing of former IAFC President and Division President

It is with great sadness to inform you of the passing of Retired Fire Chief William Ray Jacks. Chief Jacks served the City of Pine Bluff for total of 49 ½ years beginning September 1, 1949, during that tenure he was promoted to Fire Chief August 22, 1972, serving for 26 ½ years before retiring March 7, 1999. Chief Jacks was 90 Years old at the time of his passing.  In addition to service as the Fire Chief for 26-1/2 years, Chief Jacks also served as Past President of the IAFC and Past Division President.

Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services would like to thank him for his dedicated and committed servers to Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services and the Fire Service throughout the State of Arkansas and the nation.

Our prayers go out to him and his family. Gone but not forgotten.

To leave comments or words of encouragement to the many family and friends of Chief Jacks, please follow the link below

http://www.ralphrobinsonandson.com/obituaries/Ray-Jacks/

Shedding light on firefighter PTSD

This article is provided by Lexipol

By Sean W. Stumbaugh, Battalion Chief (Retired)

When I was a supervisor in the fire department, my crews had a nickname for me: The Red Man. I embraced the moniker to some degree and I would joke with them, “Don’t make me take out the Red Man.” This was a term of endearment (at least that’s what I liked to believe) in many cases, but I knew it was born from numerous times that I led with anger. In hindsight this is not a great way to lead.

So, what was really going on here? I hadn’t been brought up in some military academy where I learned to be a drill sergeant when things didn’t go my way. Was there something else at work? Something I couldn’t really put my finger on? After retirement, I realized some of this behavior was born out of stress I was feeling, at work and at home.

I was confident retirement would fix this issue and my life would be a breeze. I soon found out that retirement was something I wasn’t fully prepared for. I went through a two-year transition that was more difficult than being at work. Fortunately, I had some support mechanisms that helped see me through

This experience made me want to know more about the stress we face as firefighters. So I reached out to an expert in the field, Jeff Dill, founder and CEO of Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA). In this article, I’ll share some insights Jeff opened my eyes to, with the hopes that they might be eyeopening for you, too. And in my next article, I’ll share three steps all fire service professionals can take to combat the negative effects of work-related stress.

1,100 and Counting One of my goals when I was a training chief was to design training programs that reduced the risk of line-of-duty deaths (LODDs) by targeting the root causes of LODDs. We commonly use the number 100 to explain how many of us die on the job each year. This number is an average, and the actual figure fluctuates, but unfortunately the deviation is small.

Jeff Dill stresses an entirely different number: 1,102—the number of confirmed firefighter and EMS suicides he has validated since he began studying the issue. “These are not merely numbers, they are the names and faces of brothers and sisters who have left us behind,” Jeff says. “That’s always been our message at the FBHA. We never want to forget them.” Jeff now dedicates his professional life to helping reduce this growing number.

Call It By Name So, what is it we are struggling with? We can—and should—call it Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) or PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We’re hardly alone in being at risk for PTS; military personnel, police officers and other first responders face it too—not to mention anyone who experiences a traumatic experience, such as being assaulted or witnessing death or abuse.

Learn more about how Lexipol can protect your most valuable asset…your people!

lexipol

IAFC-SW Division Strategic Partner

IAFC Director Roy Robichaux

Chief Roy Robichaux has been involved with the IAFC for nearly 40 years.  His contribution to the fire service and the IAFC has been a vital part of the growth of the organization as well as his knowledge and experience has been to expertise of the Louisiana fire service.

Robichaux

Chief Roy Robichaux has been with the Belle Chasse Volunteer Fire Department since he began as a volunteer in 1972. He worked his way up through the ranks within the department, becoming the fire chief in 1978. The Belle Chasse Volunteer Fire Department covers approximately 27 square miles of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana and is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans. Since 1978, the department has grown from a one-station, total volunteer department to a combination department with five stations.

Chief Robichaux earned a bachelor of science degree in Engineering Technology from Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, LA. He has completed several classes offered by the National Fire Academy including Community Fire Protection Planning, Commanding the Initial Response, and Fire Fighter Safety and Survival. In 2010, Chief Robichaux retired from ConocoPhillips where he was the fire chief and emergency response superintendent at the Alliance Refinery for 23 years. He currently serves as Superintendent of Fire Departments for Plaquemines Parish Government. As superintendent, he oversees the parish’s seven fire departments. One of his many accomplishments during his tenure is having assisted each department in transitioning from total volunteer to combination departments.

Chief Robichaux joined the IAFC in 1978 and currently serves as Southwestern Division International Director on the IAFC Board of Directors after serving as division president, division secretary-treasurer and division state (LA) vice-president. He has belonged to several IAFC sections and has agreed to serve as a board advocate to the Industrial and Fire Safety Section.

Chief Robichaux is active in many fire service organizations, including the Louisiana Fire Chiefs’ Association, the Louisiana State Firemen’s Association, the Louisiana Fireman’s Supplemental Pay Board, and the Plaquemines Parish Emergency Planning Committee.

Additionally, Chief Robichaux served as an adjunct instructor at LSU Industrial Fire Chief’s School, University of Nevada Fire Protection Training Academy, and at Williams Foam School.

 

 

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