2nd Edition

I Love a Fire Fighter, Second Edition What the Family Needs to Know

By Ellen Kirschman, Ellen Kirschman Copyright 2021

    How can fire fighter families cope with the emotional toll of loving a first responder? There are ceaseless worries--about the physical dangers of the profession, the cumulative stress, and the long hours spent away from home. In this compassionate and knowledgeable guide--now fully revised and updated--psychologist Ellen Kirschman shares sage advice and practical strategies for when times get tough. From dealing with occupational hazards like trauma, marital tension, and substance use problems, to the psychological effects of fighting wildland fires, Dr. Kirschman understands the unique challenges of life on the front lines. With candor and wisdom, she shows fire fighters and their loved ones how to navigate the highs and lows of “the best job in the world.”

    I. Two In/Two Out: Building and Strengthening Your Resilient Relationship
    1. The Givens and Realities of the Fire Service
    2. Spillover: Managing the Relationship between Home and Work
    3. Relationships: Signs of Trouble, Signs of Strength
    II. Answering the Call: Fire Fighters and Their Careers
    4. Profiles: The Fire Fighter Personality
    5. Climbing the Career Ladder: From Recruitment to Retirement
    III. Beyond Burning Buildings
    6. Emergency Medical Services
    7. Wildland Fire and Trauma
    IV. The Hot Zone: Staying Safe
    8. Injuries, Fatalities, and Challenges to Health
    9. Improving Safety
    V. Trauma and Stress
    10. Trauma: An Overview
    11. Protective Factors: A Caring Organization, Resilience, and Posttraumatic Growth
    12. Getting Help for PTSI: What to Aim For, Where to Go
    13. Families and Trauma
    14. Helping Yourself
    15. Children and Trauma
    VI. Fire Fighters in Hot Water
    16. Addiction and Arson
    17. Domestic Abuse and Suicide
    VII. Special Families
    18. Fire-Fighting Couples
    19. Diversity: Women, Ethnic Minorities, and LGBTQ Fire Fighters on the Job
    VIII. Getting the Help You Need When You Need It
    20. Counseling


    Ellen Kirschman, PhD, is a police and public safety psychologist, volunteer clinician at the First Responder Support Network, and sought-after speaker and workshop facilitator. Dr. Kirschman is a recipient of the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Police and Public Safety Psychology from the Police and Public Safety section of Division 18 (Psychologists in Public Service) of the American Psychological Association and the Distinguished Contribution to Psychology award from the California Psychological Association. She is coauthor of a book for mental health professionals, Counseling Cops; author of the self-help guides I Love a Cop, Third Edition, and I Love a Fire Fighter, Second Edition; and writes a mystery series featuring police psychologist Dr. Dot Meyerhoff. She also blogs with Psychology Today and writes a newsletter. Her website is www.ellenkirschman.com.

    "I laughed and cried as I read this book--the personal experiences and insights really spoke to me. I had so many 'aha!' moments! I am left with a sense that I am not alone, and I now have tools to navigate the fire service world."--Chris S., fire fighter spouse

    "My husband started his career as a volunteer/reserve and eventually worked his way to Fire Chief. I have referred to this book every step of the way and found it to be a priceless source of knowledge and guidance. Over the years, I have recommended and given this book to dozens of spouses and family members as the top resource for understanding this unique culture and lifestyle. There is no other guide as complete as this one!"--Kelly B., Fire Chief spouse

    "The fire service culture is rich, unique, and full of tradition. Dr. Kirschman takes you through the interpersonal dynamics and lifestyle challenges that fire fighters face, and gives you real-world perspectives and advice."--Kristen Wheldon, PsyD, President, Fire Service Psychology Association

    "My fire fighter is retired now, but if we had to do it all again, this book would have been a priceless roadmap for many of the problems and emotions that we encountered throughout her career. The fire service is unlike any other profession--this is a 'must read' for all current and future fire fighters and the people who love them."--Lisa H., fire fighter spouse

    "Dr. Kirschman offers helpful insights into how fire fighters think, how the work can affect them, and how to take action for a healthy fire family. Not only is this book informative, it is also enjoyable to read. It is written in a conversational, no-nonsense style that makes you feel like you're engaging with the author. Each chapter includes strategies from seasoned fire fighters and their family members, as well as Dr. Kirschman’s extensive experience. The robust list of resources will help you continue improving your relationships and well-being."--Stephanie M. Conn, PhD, First Responder Psychology, Beaverton, Oregon; author of Increasing Resilience in Police and Emergency Personnel
    -This is a well-written handbook to help families of firefighters understand, mitigate, and possibly prevent many of the physical and mental health problems faced by firefighters. This second edition offers new chapters, including one on the unique stress of fighting wildfires, and also goes into greater detail on mitigating emotional trauma….A useful resource to clinicians and families alike.--Doody’s Review Service, 9/9/2021ƒƒDr. Kirschman offers cogent tips for dealing with the spillover between work and home....I highly recommend [this book] to mental health professionals, faith based helpers, peer supporters, and family members. [It offers] invaluable insights and constructive suggestions. (on the first edition)--International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 1/1/2007ƒƒDefinitely a must read for supervisors and administrators of fire and emergency services, both volunteer and career. Also, this is an important book for professional psychologists rendering services to fire personnel, their families and organizations. (on the first edition)--Atlantic OccuPsych, 1/1/2005ƒƒA very welcome resource for the fire service. Every fire recruit should give a copy to his or her family on the first day of training. (on the first edition)--FireWork, 1/1/2005