Surrey Fire Service Wellness Program
As Surrey Fire Service employees, our wellness is important not only to our loved ones, but to the community we serve.
The Surrey Fire Service (SFS) has made the wellness of its members a priority for many years.
The Wellness Program manual, introduced in September 2016, is a one-stop guide to the wellness programs and services available to SFS employees that cover all aspects of wellness: mental, physical, spiritual and social.
The manual was a year in the making and involved input from union, management and external experts. The goal is to help ensure SFS is the kind of place where every employee knows what support is available, knows it’s okay to seek help, and knows how to help co-workers who are struggling.
Copies of the manual have been provided to all employees and are also available for reference at Surrey Fire Service stations and in PDF format.
Following is the range of the services and programs that are available for employees:
Employee Assistance Program
Substance Abuse Treatment
The City and the Union jointly fund residential substance abuse treatment programs for any employee who requests treatment.
Employee Support Team
For any employee with more extensive complicated treatment requirements, representatives from management and the Union collaborate with mental health professionals to determine the necessary treatment required. This is done on a case by case basis with the focus being on the health of the employee.
New Recruit Mental Health Awareness
At the beginning of new recruit training, recruits receive training on the possible effects of their job as a firefighter and what they may encounter throughout their career. In conjunction with this, they are provided with the information they need to access support and services.
At the conclusion of the recruit training, the recruit family members are invited to attend an information session on the effects of the job of being a firefighter. Surrey firefighters, management and a mental health professional explain the programs and services available for all employees as a pro-active measure to ensure family members are equipped with the information needed to support their loved ones, recognize when assistance might be required and are aware of the programs and services available.
Peer Support Team
Comprised of a group of Surrey firefighters, this team is trained in basic crisis and suicide intervention. They provide the opportunity for firefighters to seek assistance from other firefighters rather than trying to choose from a list of unknown mental health professionals. The team members have information and resources to assist fellow firefighters to reach out and access the support services they need.
Critical Incident Stress Management
Following potentially traumatic events, firefighters are offered the opportunity to participate in a peer led defusing which allows the opportunity to talk about emotionally troubling incidents and provides educational material for the employees and their families. Trained firefighters meet with the crews involved in significant incidents to offer all members the opportunity to talk about the incident and provide follow up support and resources as may be needed.
Psychological Oversight and Support
Surrey Fire Services utilizes the services of a psychologist to assist with program development, clinical oversight of the in house programs, resiliency assessment of new hires, and on-call services and assistance.
The Surrey Fire Service delivered this course to all of the operations staff. The program was developed by the Canadian Mental Health Association in conjunction with Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, to provide awareness and tools to firefighters to help them to understand the psychological effects of firefighting on themselves and their co-workers as well as how to recognize and assist our clients with mental health issues.