A Fire Chief Tells His Tragic Story- FF Netcast Stand Down for Behavioral Health- Part 3

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In part 3 of our series, listen in as Chief Pat Kenny bares his soul about his struggles, both personally as a father and professionally as a chief officer at his department, with the tragic suicide death of his young son.

Chief Kenny tells us how they all made the painful journey in a way which turned the page on how his firefighters related to that incident and how they will pbe better equipped to handle this type of medical emergency- before it becomes fatal.

Over the past few days and weeks, the fire service news has been inundated with stories of firefighters who have taken their own lives. It’s times like these which force us to pause and realize that the mental health challenges we face every day are truly no different than any physical challenge such as a bum back or sprained knee that keeps us from operating at our best. Why then are we treating these obstacles in such a different way?

The truth is that now, more than ever before, our brothers and sisters in the fire and EMS services, along with our families, have an incredible amount of new resources with which to assist us as we begin to change our attitudes toward the way we address these issues which have always been there, but we were always afraid to confront. The result is that more and more of us are emerging from our behavioral issues as much more healthy, productive, and happy firefighters, moms, and dads.

Now that’s great news.

Firefighter Netcast is suspending our regular programming schedule to bring you re-broadcasts of some of this great news so we can apply it as its needed- starting now.

One of our most listened-to shows was originally netcast late last summer and features two special guests who lead a thought-provoking discussion on firefighter behavioral health. Battalion Chief Jeff Dill of the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District in suburban Chicago is an Illinois licensed counselor of behavioral issues specifically for firefighters.

Chief Dill is joined by another suburban Chicago Fire Chief- Pat Kenny, retired chief from the Hinsdale and Western Springs fire departments. Chief Kenny is the Assistant Executive Director of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association and a representative at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Seminar on Depression and Suicide held last summer in Baltimore.

Moreover, Chief Kenny is the father of Sean Kenny, who took his own life back in 2006. Listen to Chief Kenny as he offers a firsthand account of what its like to go through the torture of having lost your son to suicide, and how to deal with his loss publicly as a chief officer in his own department.

It’s very powerful stuff. 

I urge you to listen in to each of the segments of this Stand Down for Firefighter Behavioral Health. It’s our hope that we can learn to approach these issues we face with a new attitude, and realization that we are winning these battles, just as we have overcome countless challenges over the storied history of this, the greatest service on earth.

Links to Listen to our Previous Episodes

"Stand Down For Firefighter Behavioral Health"

Part 1- The Invisible Scourge

Here's how big of a deal all of this really is.

Part 2- The Firefighters Mental Health Toolbox

Do you know what you should do if you think your buddy needs some help?



B/C Dill is a nationally recognized authority on behavioral health issues within the fire service. He established Counseling Services for Fire Fighters, LLC based on the tragic events that surrounded Hurricane Katrina. When speaking with firefighters who returned after serving the community of New Orleans, Jeff heard the pleas of firefighters who had a difficult time talking with counselors who did not have any firefighting experience. They became frustrated and never did seek the help they needed. You can listen to Jeff’s last appearance on the Firefighter Netcast Show here: “Counseling For a Firefighter- By a Firefighter” In this program, Chief Dill tells us about a new resource coming to the aid of the fire service. Last month, Chief Dill announced the formation of Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA). The new 501(c) (3) organization was established to directly educate firefighters/ Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel and their families about behavioral health issues such as depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and addictions, as well as firefighter suicides. FBHA's sole goal is to promote good mental health to the men and women of the fire service/EMS and their families, as well as make a significant difference in reducing the numbers of firefighters who are turning to suicide to ease their pain. FBHA Founder Jeff Dill holds a Master's Degree in Counseling, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Illinois.

Joining Chief Dill will be a very special guest- retired Fire Chief Patrick Kenny of the Hinsdale (IL) Fire Department. Chief Kenny is the Assistant Executive Director of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association and a representative at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Seminar on Depression and Suicide.

Tragically, in 2006, Chief Kenny lost his son Sean to suicide. He reflects on the obstacles and challenges he faced as a father as well as a chief officer during his personal nightmare. Since then, Chief Kenny has traveled across the nation and around the world sharing his intensely personal story and promoting advocacy of mental health awareness in the fire service and beyond.

Find out more by visiting any the links above, or browsing these others:

"A Father's Grief"

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John Mitchell

Firefighter/Paramedic and a Lieutenant in suburban Chicago

Toledo prayers