So how’s your daughter? How’s she being treated? How’s your son? Same question. When we get into the discussions of having “fun” in the firehouse-or in the fire “community” …what’s right or wrong may be in the eye of the recipient-and the deliver-er. Or the policy. Or the law.
It can get nasty-real nasty-and in this www world of faceless and ball-less internet hiders, it might harshly cause irreversible harm to the recipient.
Sometimes they ignore it and blow it off.
Sometimes it makes them sad.
Sometimes they get so embarrassed, hurt, upset, bullied–that they want to die. Literally.
Weak? Strong? Sensitive? Who knows-but the experts say that people can be pushed to a point of no return. If you are one of those “anonymous” insensitive internet trolls and that was your intention–Congratulations.
FIREFIGHTER NICOLE MITTENDORFF RIP.
The tragic suicide death of Fairfax County Firefighter Nicole Mittendorff may end up being “the one” that the national and even international media latches on to. Maybe some person out there with a katrillion dollars ends up funding some business to dig deep and find a way to expose the culprits.
Personally, I am pretty confident that Fairfax County Fire Chief Richie Bowers, using every possible resource, will leave no stone unturned to determine if there is a connection between her suicide and personnel within his department. Statement here: http://tinyurl.com/hr6ykqs
This is some nasty stuff….you can read it below….and a strong reminder to firefighters, fire officers, chiefs and commissioners about personnel training, expected/required on and off duty behaviors and clear policy. Clear policy. What’s the policy? How were we trained on the policy?
Some will say that firehouse behavior is just a fun environment. I get it. However, how we behaved when I started in the 70’s, then the 80’s, 90’s etc was a different expectation than it is in 2016. Whether we like it or not.
A SIMPLE TEST.
Do I miss the good old days? Most of it…absolutely-but what anyone “misses” is irrelevant. The fact is that there are expected “human” and “respect” behaviors in 2016 and it makes good sense.
Here is a simple test that I use and wish I used years ago.
Pretend that your spouse, your Mom (your partner, your kids etc) is watching you at the firehouse. Watching every move, hearing every word, seeing every keyboard stroke.
Now go ahead and do what you wanna do.
It’s a good test that generally seems to work and isn’t some outlandish request where we have to radically change how we behave…just how we behave in front of our daughters, our moms…our spouses. It should be the “always” behavior. Should be.
We shouldn’t have to change radically at all when we are around our kids or our families and then at the firehouse. If we do, we need better hiring processes.
Think about how you want your kid treated. Do you have a daughter (sister, niece, granddaughter, mom), on the job? Career? Volunteer? No difference.
The test is simple: how do you want her treated when on duty? How do the parents expect their daughter or son to be treated at a scene-while under your command? During training? In the bunkroom? Maybe even online.
BUT WHAT IF I CANNOT STAND OR TOLERATE THAT PERSON’S BEHAVIOR?
What if you don’t like that person?
What if their morality angers you?
What if you can’t stand their lifestyle?
What if they do things that “deserve” your anonymous response? …your bullying?
There is no justification. None.
But what if they have behavior or lifestyle issues you just can’t stand?
If it’s that tough, call EAP.
Someone else’s behavior is for the officers (based on policy and law), their spouse or karma to deal with.
However, hiding behind a keyboard throwing fuel on a fire-or just setting and lighting one where there never was one is gutless and blatantly cowardly. Bored? Find something else to do. Do a self behavior check on yourself. E.A.P.
WHAT ARE THE FACTS ABOUT SUICIDE?
The national suicide rate has hit its highest point since 1986, according to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control (report below). Among middle-aged Americans, the gender gap narrowed between men and women who took their own lives.
For 10 to 14-year-old girls, the rate has tripled in the past 15 years. “Despite increased suicide prevention efforts, rates are rising.”
The number of suicides in the United States has been on the rise since 1999 in everyone between the ages of 10 and 74, according to that new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics looked at data on cause of death for Americans 10 and older from 1999 to 2014. They also included information on age and race from death certificates.
In 2014, 13 people out of every 100,000 took their own lives, compared with 10.5 per 100,000 in 1999. The suicide rate increased every year from 1999 to 2014 among both women and men and in every age group except those 75 and older.
HERE IS THAT REPORT:
HERE IS A NEWS ARTICLE ABOUT THE LATE FIREFIGHTER NICOLE MITTENDORFF & THE INVESTIGATION INTO BULLYING:
HERE ARE 2 LINKS TO THE WEBSITE WHERE THE DISCUSSIONS WENT ON:
Horrible and a real shame…see page 10 and then page 14 where people are blaming the postings for her suicide.
More recent post suicide discussion here:
AN IMPORTANT WORD FROM IWOMEN.
The International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services https://i-women.org/
is deeply saddened by the passing of our sister, Nicole Mittendorff. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and fellow firefighters in Fairfax County, Virginia during this difficult time. Nicole’s death adds to the rapidly climbing number of suicides in the fire service.
The following are resources available to firefighters and departments related to behavioral health:
IAFF/IAFC SLIDE PROGRAM:
NVFC: Share The Load program:
NFFF SUICIDE PREVENTION -THE FIRE CHIEFS GUIDE:
SAFE CALL NOW:
FF BEHAVIORAL HEALTH ALLIANCE:
The FFBHA has reported 116 Firefighters in the United States committed suicide in 2015. Behavioral health struggles in the fire service are often overlooked, but it affects every EMS and fire department in one form or another. We encourage every department to reach out to the above resources to help reduce these tragic statistics.
As Firefighters we take great pride in helping anyone, no matter what they do, how they live, what they look like or what lifestyle they have. That cannot ever change-be it for those who call 9-1-1 or one of our own who may not fit our own personal, self serving definition of “Brother” or “Sister.”
RIP Nicole Mittendorff
Commentary by Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder