Size-Up vs. Internal Size-Up
Which is easier?
By Jeff Dill, founder of Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA)
Dispatch, Engine 36 is on the scene of a large two-story residential with smoke and flames from the second floor, A sector. Engine 36 will be in the offensive mode, going interior with a deuce and a half performing a search/rescue and fire extinguishment. Engine 36 will be command. All arriving units switch to fire ground B upon arrival.
Sound familiar? If you are in the fire service then you have somewhat of a picture of the scene I just painted. For many, doing a size-up comes naturally, due to the years of experience you have gained from the “job.” It helps not only you as command but assists others on what they have coming in and what their role might be one they arrive on fire ground.
The next task is for you to stand in front of a mirror and perform an Internal Size-Up. Reflect on your emotions and behaviors of the day, week, or perhaps months. Has my anger increased? Have I turned to some form of an addiction to get through the day? Do I carry images in my mind that I visit several times a day? Can I sleep through the night or am I up numerous times due to anxiety and stress? How are my relationships with my family, children or friends going? Am I happy or does the day drag on and I can’t face any challenges? Guess what…You just did an Internal Size-Up.
Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA) has educated thousands of firefighters, EMS, dispatchers, counselors and chaplains for over eleven years on behavioral health and suicide awareness. We have been tracking suicides of these groups since 2010. One such subject we educate on is the need for each person to perform an Internal Size-Up, daily if needed. Simply ask yourself, Why am I acting this way or Why am I feeling this way?” The best thing to do is to listen to others. They see us so much better than the person we see in the mirror.
As mentioned, FBHA has been tracking and validating firefighter and EMS suicides since 2010. In 2019, we added dispatchers/communication specialists. We have validated over 1,625 of these tragic events. We know so much from the data. Data collected by FBHA contacting and speaking, confidentially, to approximately 1,585 chief officers or family survivors.
This is what we know. The number one known reason for our brothers and sisters killing themselves is marital/family relationships. This is followed by depression, PTSD/PTSI, medical/physical issues and then addictions. There are many other reasons plus a combination of some or all of these issues. We know divorce rates are high in our world. It is time the fire service really concentrates on providing family assistance through education on why their loved ones act the way they do and how it effects the home life.
There are several ways to help yourself and your family. First, asking is the best start! Finding a counselor or chaplain who is culturally competent is highly recommended to limit your frustration. There are other forms of counseling which include equine therapy. Yet, one cannot move forward unless they listen to their heart and soul to seek help.
In 2010, Jeff Dill founded Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA). This organization is a 501 (3) (C). www.ffbha.org
Jeff travels the United States & Canada holding workshops to educate firefighters & EMS about behavioral health awareness and suicide prevention. FBHA is the only known organization that tracks and validates data on all FF, EMS and dispatcher suicides across the United States. In addition, FBHA holds classes for counselors/chaplains, family members and preparing for retirement.
Jeff Dill holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Argosy University (IL), a Licensed Professional Counselor, and a retired Captain at Palatine Rural Fire Protection District in Inverness, Illinois.
Jeff Dill is a twenty-six year veteran of the fire service, with volunteer and career experience. In addition, he has a Master’s Degree in Community Counseling. He was the founder of Counseling Services for Fire Fighters in 2009 and Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance in 2010. He travels across the United States and Canada providing educational workshops to firefighters on behavioral health issues such as addictions, depression, PTSD, relationships and suicide awareness. Jeff also educates counselors across the United States on how to work with the fire service and understanding the fire service culture. His belief is education is the key to creating acceptance of behavioral health within the first responder services.
Counselors: FBHA teamed up with the National Volunteer Fire Council in providing a national directory of counselors who work with first responders. FBHA has now validated over 300 counselors who work with our culture. Here is the link for the list of counselors across America. https://www.nvfc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Behavioral-Health-Professionals-Directory.pdf
Recognizing Suicide Warning Signs in Firefighters and EMTs
Suicide Screening Questionnaire
FBHA has been to these facilities and recommends for in-patient assistance. FBHA does not get any funding for making these recommendations. We do this because we have visited or know the people who run their facility and believe in the programs.
- Center of Excellence: www.iaffrecoverycenter.com
- Rosecrance: https://rosecrance.org/addiction-treatment/florian-program/
- Genises House: https://genesishouse.net
- Deer Hollow: https://deerhollowrecovery.com
- Safe Call Now: Live telephone operators to assist and place first responders in treatment centers nationally: https://www.safecallnowusa.org
FBHA also assists by offering workshops, a closed Facebook group for family survivors and has an annual weekend retreat for family survivors. Visit FBHA at www.ffbha.org.