Reinforcing responder resilience with Jeff Dill

April 24, 2024

Jeff Dill, co-founder of Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, reveals how a personal quest turned into a lifesaving crusade for firefighters and EMS personnel nationwide

The Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA) was founded in 2010 by myself, a then Battalion Chief and my wife Karen.

I retired in 2015, traveling across the US and Canada educating First Responders on behavioral health issues and validating their suicides across America.

In 2021, I began a new position as the Behavioral Health Administrator for Las Vegas Fire & Rescue.

But to understand how the mission came about you will need to step back into 2005. The process all began with Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans and the states in the gulf.

Numerous firefigthers from the Chicagoland area went down to New Orleans to help a devastated community.

When they returned I spoke to many, who were struggling with the traumatic events they dealt with.

Many sought help from Employee Assistant Program counselors but were frustrated at the lack of knowing the fire culture.

Remember, this is 2005, and there wasn’t a lot of talk about behavioral health in the fire service, especially suicides.

I decided to doing something to help out our brothers and sisters. I started back to school to obtain a Master’s Degree in Counseling.

While going through graduation process Counseling Services for Fire Fighters (CFSS). This organisation trained counselors and chaplains about our world, our culture (CSFF has since been closed and absorbed by FBHA).

In early 2010, CSFF started receiving phone calls and emails from around the world asking him if I did anything in regard to firefighter suicides.

I began to research the issue and found there was serious issues in the area of the fire service. They weren’t being researched, tracked or validated.

It was then FBHA was founded, eventually becoming a 501 C 3 in June of 2011.

The FBHA logo was designed to signify as the Green Ribbon-Behavioral Health and the Yellow Ribbon represents Suicide Awareness/Prevention.

The mission

The mission of FBHA is to collaborate, develop and implement behavioral health awareness, prevention, intervention, and post crisis strategies to provide firefighters/EMS with an easily accessible and confidential source of information.

Using best practices and protocols, FBHA promotes awareness, education and training, communication, integration of services, resources and support to the men and women of the fire service and EMS.

In furtherance of these goals, FBHA undertakes educational projects aimed at chaplain programs that deal with behavioral health issues of firefighters/EMS, survivors and their families.

(In 2019, FBHA began tracking/validating Communication Specialists/Dispatchers)

FBHA’s journey began with its first workshop for the Philadelphia Fire Department in December 2011, introducing “Saving Those Who Save Others” as its first workshop and tagline.

The following year, FBHA expanded its offerings with the “Internal Size-Up” and “Saving Those Who Save Others-Family Edition” workshops.

Over the years, FBHA has developed a total of twelve workshops, each shaped by insights gained from traveling over a million miles and engaging with over 30,000 first responders, their families, counselors, and chaplains.

Significant milestones include hosting the first annual weekend retreat for family survivors in Savannah, GA in 2015, and initiating the “We Remember” night in the same city, an event that has since become nationwide and recognised by entities including Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo in 2023.

FBHA’s impactful work has been acknowledged in Congress and sought after by major media for interviews and data.

Esteemed organisations such as the USFA, OSHA, and FEMA utilise FBHA’s data and expertise.

In 2023, FBHA produced its first white paper on Moral Injury for firefighters, with more in development.

Additionally, FBHA is in the process of publishing its first book, slated for release in fall 2024.

Furthermore, FBHA is committed to supporting the first responder community through financial assistance, offering counseling grants for those without insurance and a scholarship program for children affected by FF, EMS, or dispatcher suicides.

The organisation plays a vital role in connecting countless first responders and their families with vetted counselors, demonstrating a relentless commitment to the well-being and support of those who serve our communities.


Partnerships have been limited throughout our existence.

To understand this we need to step back again to 2010.

We approached numerous organisations about our mission and perhaps partnering up with FBHA, but we met the proverbial “brick wall”.

 The main reason for this is due to it being 2010 and any lack of discussion about behavioral health within the fire service.

I started as a volunteer in the early 1990’s and without a doubt there was never any talk about your emotions or feelings.

PTSD was a military problem and as for suicides, FBHA was told we were making up the numbers.

As the years progress especially around 2014/2015 there became more and more organisations developed to take on the challenges of behavioral health and suicides.

I attribute this to many people now believing FBHA’s data was spot on and that we are losing good men and woman to numerous issues.

One organisation that truly believed in our mission was the National Volunteer Fire Council.

Our relationship has created a true friendship between the organisations.

I will always remember and cherish my dear friend Heather Schafer for believing in our mission.

The future

With the development of our White Paper on Moral Injury in the fire service, which was released in February of 2023, our future looks strong.

I base this outlook on the numerous government organisations who want to work with FBHA regarding our data.

In addition, we look forward to building a close relationship with the CEO of Centurian Media, Ian Stokes.

He is totally committed to supporting and working with FBHA and offering the support of International Fire and Safety Journal (IFSJ), and Fire and Safety Journal Americas (FSJA).

 With that comes the managing editor Duncan White, who is now a very dear friend.

A while back I expressed to Duncan the need for FBHA to go global since behavioral health and suicide is occurring in every organisation across the world.

After numerous discussions FBHA will be announcing at FDIC 2024, in Indianapolis, that Duncan White will be joining the FBHA team.

His title will be our International Ambassador.

He will be working the UK, Europe, Middle East, Australia and beyond to bring FBHA’s message and workshops to our brothers and sisters across the globe.

His influence, name and experiences will be a tremendous asset to our mission.

The data

As of the writing of this article, February 17, 2024, FBHA has validated 2,002 losses of FF’s, EMS and Dispatchers.

(1,683 FF’s – 310 EMT’s – 9 DISP) FBHA estimates a 65% reporting of losses. We do have over 85 reported losses globally.

I have personally spoken to over 1,950 Chief Officers or Supervisors to validate the data. Please remember though, these are not just numbers.

These are the names and faces of our brothers and sisters whose voices have gone silent. Please remember them and their families.


These past fifteen years have been filled with pain, loss, new found friendships, tears, laughter and a passion to help so many of our brothers and sisters.

I would be remiss if I did not thank my beautiful bride Karen Dill for walking this difficult path by my side.

Without her dedication and support FBHA would not be around. The thousands of hours she has devoted to this mission is simply incredible.

Thank you to my staff, past, current and future members, for being a part of this journey.

About the author

Jeff Dill, a retired Fire Captain with a Master’s in Counseling, educates first responders in the US and Canada on behavioral health, moral injury, and suicide prevention.

Founder of FBHA, he tracks responder suicides, offering ten workshops for various audiences both in the US and internationally.

In 2021, he became Las Vegas Fire & Rescue’s Behavioral Health Administrator.

This article was originally published in the April 2024 issue of Fire & Safety Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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