Equipping fire chaplains for roles focused on firefighters' well-being after trauma exposure
LE3 .A278 2018
Doctor of Ministry
Acadia Divinity College
Trauma exposure is a recognized hazard to firefighters’ physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being. chaplains can play a valuable, supportive role as they join God’s compassionate, redemptive activities in the world. They are uniquely able to assist firefighters and others suffering moral injury due to critical incidents. Training required for this holistic care is specialized, going beyond most pastoral education. This thesis-project began with an exploratory assessment of the roles and training of fire chaplains in New Brunswick. Using a Pro-Active Research Method, fire chiefs and fire chaplains were consulted through surveys and questionnaires, followed by interviews with six fire officers and chaplains. The data revealed that New Brunswick chaplains perform similar duties to other fire chaplains. Several gaps were identified. The fire service is highly regulated but fire chaplains in NB operated with no guidelines for best practices or training. Often, they were unaware of other chaplains. Many fire chiefs were open to fire chaplaincy programs but lacked a clear understanding of the roles chaplains can play, or how to recruit and train them. Finally, chaplains often had inadequate levels of mental health training, including Critical Incident Stress Management and suicide awareness, for their duties. An educational model was developed to clarify chaplains’ roles and to address gaps in training and awareness for fire chaplains and fire departments. A network was developed between chaplains for self-care and mutual aid. Also, the benefits of affiliation with organizations such as the Federation of Fire Chaplains, and the New Brunswick Association of Fire Chiefs were promoted.
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