Firefighter Wife, Flame fest and Mental Health… what I didn’t tell you

flame-fest-logo-with-color--217x300I mentioned in my last post that Rhett (The Fire Critic) and I spoke on Mental Health / wellness at Flame Fest 2015. I didn’t go into a lot of detail and wanted to share a little more about the experience with you.

To begin with, for all you “salty” firefighters out there… “Flame Fest” is NOT what you may think it is and it has NOTHING to do with the recent Supreme Court ruling (LOL).

It’s an annual event put on by Dan, Lori Mercer and their team over at (link) .

From their web page… “Firefighting is a noble profession.  And also one that takes an emotional toll sometimes at the expense of marriages and family life.  Our Mission is to honor, strengthen, support and encourage fire service marriages and families.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect and have to admit after the fact that it was an amazing experience. My wife, Donna; and I attended all the sessions plus I assisted Rhett with putting on the “Touch A Truck” event, Donna and I sat on the Marriage Panel and Rhett and I spoke on Mental Health and Wellness.

That (our presentation) is what I want to talk about for a minute but you’ll also need to use the following links to find out about everything else that happened at Flame fest 2015… TRUST ME .. you’ll want to see this!

Click to read “If You’re a Married Firefighter or Married to a Firefighter…GET IN HERE!”

Read more about FlameFest
View all of the photos here (FB)


So Rhett and I spoke Friday morning. We presented on Firefighter Mental Health / Wellness issues including suicide. It’s a very difficult topic for anyone to talk about openly…. much less Firefighters.

RWA couple of things I should mention here is that 1.) we followed the key note speaker … Chief Bobby Halton. Yea… “THAT” Bobby Halton… OMG… talk about pressure. 2.) My wife, best friends Michael Parris, Andrew Catron and their wives Amanda Parris and girlfriend Lindsey Holman were in attendance. More pressure …

Rhett and I have given this presentation several times but never in front of my wife or close friends.

It’s a very emotional and powerful presentation. Typically, there is not a dry eye in the room and other than us speaking, you can hear a pin drop.

Despite my not being able to “read” Chief Halton’s reaction, we must have met our mark because nearly everyone in attendance spoke to me about it afterwards. It’s still amazing to me to find out how many Brothers and Sisters in a room are fighting (or have fought) the same battles. How many say “you just said what I’ve been thinking”. To me, it re-enforces the fact that enough attention is not being paid to Firefighter Mental Health.

38f58df43738dea4559e7e05db4760f6Anyway, what everyone in that room didn’t realize was the fact that the presentation they received was not our full presentation. They got the condensed version. Actually, they got less than that because we only spoke for about 40 minutes and kinda went “off the cuff” to keep within our allotted time frame. There were a lot of things we didn’t get to say or touch on.

Typically, that session will go 1/2 day followed by one of our motivational talks.

The comment I received the most was how more firefighters need to hear this presentation. How more firefighters need to hear it from US… me and Rhett (The Fire Critic).

For whatever reason, many of you put a lot of “stock” into what Rhett and I say and write here on and Fire It’s VERY humbling, a lot of responsibility and an HONOR.

Let me say this … Firefighter Mental Health and Suicide is (and has been) a HUGE issue … You may or may not be aware of it but I guarantee there is a member in your Department or Company that is struggling. That member is not only struggling, they also feel alone, embarrassed and / or may not know where to turn for help (much less that it’s ok to do so).

In my last post, I mentioned that the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (link) has reported 53 Firefighter suicides so far in 2015 (104 in 2014) and they have 5 others they are currently verifying.  Those are just the ones reported! If you don’t think there’s a problem out there… you’re WRONG.

So, if you’d like to hear our full presentation on Firefighter Mental Health and Wellness, use the following link to contact us for all the details …. it’s something EVERY Firefighter needs to hear and you wont be disappointed.

Learn MORE / Schedule us to SPEAK at your event by clicking HERE

So my last post (“Yea, Firefighter Lives Matter too”) was also about Mental Health / Wellness. The post received a lot of traffic and in return I’ve taken several questions, comments etc. Obviously, I need to share a few more details with you all.

Jackson-212x300First, some of you are new to the site and are not familiar with “my story” so I may need to explain. Actually it may be easier to give you the links… I’ve shared most of my journey here on the pages of

PLEASE… take the time to read these articles… you’ll understand afterwards..(book mark and read them later if need be)

Making the push… A Firefighters struggle with mental illness

Searching for a “New Normal”

Zero Visibility 

When firefighters need Rescued 

So if you read the posts in the links above, you now know that for the past two years, I’ve been fighting grief, depression, PTSD and Addiction (alcohol). I feel like (and know) that many of you are fighting the same battles…. Not all wounds are visible and we do not stand alone!

Follow Ironfiremen on Face Book

It’s been a long, difficult struggle that I continue to battle on a daily basis. My fight led me down many paths. Some worked better than others, some not at all. I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way and have tried to share them with you all through my postings and speaking engagements. Make no doubt about it though… it’s been a struggle.

One of the things that I believe would have helped me the most just opened up in February this year … Station House Retreat (link) .

I wrote about this First Responder Exclusive facility in that last post and apparently peaked some interest.

downloadTo answer a few of the questions I’ve received …

  • YES, they provide treatment for both mental health and addiction issues
  • YES, your treatment / care there is PRIVATE and CONFIDENTIAL
  • YES, they work with most Insurance companies and even offer a sliding scale for uncovered fees.
  • The Station House is a 14 bed facility so YES, you will be there with other people. They are however all First Responders … Firefighters, EMS, Police or Correction Officers.
  • YES, this facility is for male and female first responders alike, however ; they have a separate, smaller facility (10 beds) for the females that is not First Responder exclusive (but is owned by a former LEO). That facility is located just down the road.
  • YES, much of the staff / Peer Support Team are former First Responders themselves.
  • The typical stay is usually around 30 days but each case is handled on an individual basis depending of the severity of the case and how well you respond to treatment.

More “FAQ’s” about Station House Retreat HERE

And, the biggest question I’ve received is have I been a patient / visitor / resident of Station House Retreat?

No…. I haven’t BUT I’m scheduled to go in July. National Outreach Coordinator and Co-founder, Don Prince and I are good friends and talk on a regular basis. We are (and have been) working together to get me down there for several reasons.  So, at the end of July, I’ll be able to share with you first hand knowledge of everything Station House Retreat has to offer. Until then, you’ll just have to trust me as I’ve seen / heard the testimonials plus… I happen to know a few people on the inside… LOL … TRUST ME … this is the place is for us to heal!

Station House Retreat (web site)

Station House retreat on face Book

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines