As people in the fire service and their families know all too well, firefighters are exposed to unimaginable scenes of pain and suffering on the job. That traumatic stress can pile up over time, so much so that approximately half of all firefighters think about wanting to die, according to the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Although many of our brothers and sisters need help, there is a deep-rooted belief that others outside of the fire service just don’t get it. Getting help from someone who has experienced the same struggles can make all the difference, and that’s where MnFIRE peer supporters come in.
MnFIRE peer supporters are here to provide confidential support to those experiencing personal, emotional or work-related problems, while acting as a bridge to outside professional services. Our Peer Support Program allows firefighters to talk with a peer supporter who has been in their shoes, and understands the emotional challenges unique to firefighting.
“I love helping other firefighters — helping them put a name to an invisible demon, especially when it comes to trauma and PTSD,” said one peer supporter. “The follow-up texts that I receive from the ones who say, ‘You saved my life,’ make me realize there was a reason I went through what I went through. I now know my work matters.”
Connect with a Peer Supporter
If you’re in crisis or need help, please call our 24-hour hotline: 888-784-6634. This confidential, free service is available for all active volunteer, paid-on-call, part-time and full-time Minnesota firefighters. Phone lines are answered 24/7 and provide confidential support, guidance and mental health resources.
Become a Peer Supporter
MnFIRE is currently building an extensive peer supporter network to help all members of the fire family – and we want you to join us in this important work! We’re currently recruiting:
- Chief/command staff peers
- Active/retired peers
- Full-time/paid-on-call/volunteer peers
- Spouse/family peers
To become a peer supporter, you will need to attend a Peer Support training class. Our next training will take place March 12-13, 2022. Mental health professionals and senior peer supporters will give you the tools to help those in need and walk with them as they find their way back to living their best life.
MnFIRE acts as a crisis intervention peer support program. When someone calls in need of someone to talk to when working through a tough time, the Peer Support team connects them with a peer. As a peer supporter, you will share your experiences, recommendations or tools that have worked for you to get through your own challenges. Professional resources are also available if requested through the Hometown Heroes Assistance Program.
By providing emotional support outside of the traditional medical system, peer support directly reduces the culture of silence in the fire service that has all too often resulted in worsening mental health and suicide. Please consider joining our group of peer supporters – it’s a great way to give back and support your fellow firefighters!