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Alabama becomes first state to add peer support training to fire recruit curriculum

The graduates will be taught to recognize symptoms of behavioral health issues and how to counsel someone in crisis

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Photo/Alabama First Responder Peer Support Program

By Leila Merrill

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama will be the first state to include peer support counseling training as part of its fire recruit school curriculum, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Professional Fire Fighters of Alabama announced this month.

The program is funded by the Alabama Department of Mental Health and supported by the PFFA and the Alabama Fire College.

“Adding behavioral health and peer support counseling training into the recruit curriculum is groundbreaking work,” IAFF General President Edward Kelly said in a news release. “Firefighters in Alabama will be trained to not only recognize the signs and symptoms that someone needs behavioral health assistance but they will also be equipped to counsel someone who is in crisis. Congratulations to the PFFA, its members, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, and the Alabama Fire College for making this possible.”

“We are pleased that the Department of Mental Health and the fire college are working with us to meet this critical need,” said PFFA President Dave Harer. “With more trained peer support counselors, the Alabama First Responder Peer Support Program will be better able to provide behavioral health assistance, including help with substance abuse, critical intervention, and referrals.”

To learn more about the Alabama First Responder Peer Support Program, click here.