The views and positions expressed in this
editorial are the opinion of the author and do
not necessarily reflect the opinions of VFIS,
our clients and the whole emergency services
community. Contributing articles authored by
independent individuals are provided to
foster situational awareness and highlight
current issues, questions and concerns for
discussion within emergency service
By Jeff Dill, Founder of Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance
As a person who spent 26 years in the
fire service, has a master’s in counseling
and is the founder of Firefighter
Behavioral Health Alliance (FFBHA), I
believe we are all addicts. Now, before a
big debate begins, let me finish my
statement. I believe, as firefighters, we
are all addicted to the adrenaline, the
rush and excitement from the tones of
an emergency call and the unknown of
how the situation will play out.
Like most addictions, our physical and
mental cravings can be satisfied by the
simple voice of a dispatcher sending us
off to help others in need. When the call
is finished, we come down from our
“high” and into a valley of wondering
when will the next “hit” will come. Then,
tones go off and the cycle becomes
complete. Now, just imagine this
addiction cycle for 20-plus years!
Does this sound familiar to my brothers
and sisters? How do we slowly wean
ourselves off this addiction when we
retire? This is an area FBHA has been
diligently working on, so how does
retirement affect us after so many years
The latest FBHA workshop, Saying
Goodbye: An Emotional Detachment
looks at how you can prepare for that
day when the final tone arrives. Consider
the following recommendations when
preparing for retirement:
- Begin planning for retirement two years out,
earlier would be better.
- Challenge yourself to face the fact that your
fire career will end.
- If you stop learning then you stop growing.
Try to continue with your education
throughout your fire career.
- Work with a career guidance counselor. Their
main goal is to find a career for you prior to
retirement so you will have a smooth
- If you are married or have a partner, we
suggest counseling six months prior to
retirement to help see what you are
expecting from each other.
- It’s not retirement but an opportunity to
explore other avenues in life.
These are just some of the FBHA’s
recommendations on how to begin
planning for retirement, even if you are
in your first year of the fire service,
because 26 years can go by in a
Jeff Dill holds a master’s degree in counseling and recently retired as a captain from Palatine Rural Fire Protection District in Inverness, Illinois.
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