Approval to receive a statewide public safety grant aimed at bettering mental health care for local firefighters was given by Grapevine City Council at a recent meeting.

By accepting the grant funds at the Nov. 7 meeting, the Grapevine Fire Department will administer the award of $160,000 to help establish resiliency programs at 14 different fire departments within the Northeast Fire Department Association. The association serves several cities in the northeastern portions of Tarrant County.

The overview

Grapevine Fire Chief Darrell Brown said funds will be used for training associated with creating resiliency programs and establishing a peer support team across the 14 agencies within the Northeast Fire Department Association. He added the department is eligible to reapply for the grant for up to three consecutive years, which could further enhance an established program.

Brown said he thinks having a more regional peer support team may help firefighters talk about incidents witnessed while on the job.

“When something goes down at any department, sometimes you need to talk to someone not intimately involved,” Brown said. “If we can get someone trained on the uniform protocols, we can help out the nearly 600 firefighters in northeast Tarrant County.”

Dig deeper

Brown said grant funds could also be used to bring in professional counselors or physicians to assist with personnel resiliency pertaining to mental or physical injuries, as needed.
  • One outcome for a resiliency program is to help start the healing process sooner by teaching personnel how to talk about on-the-job incidents and focusing on the human impact, he added.
According to city documents, the grant funding is eligible to be expended before Sept. 30, 2024.

Brown said another part of the program is casting aside any notions that first responders are too tough to talk about witnessed incidents in the field.

Quote of note

“It’s important that we can talk about our feelings, put things in perspective and understand that we are human,” Brown said. “It helps us take care of individuals better, and when we go home, we can leave work at work with this training and be a healthy person that can do this for years and in retirement.”