Firefighters face trauma every day, impacting their physical and mental health, as well as that of their families, even long after retirement. Friends of Firefighters is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, independent and confidential mental health counseling and wellness services to active and retired FDNY firefighters and their family members.
Friends of Firefighters was born within days of September 11th, 2001 through the performance of several unobtrusive acts of kindness offered by the local community. These ranged from making dinners for exhausted rescue workers, to coordinating and facilitating "behind the scenes" in a variety of ways for funerals and memorials, to sitting and listening to firefighters talk over a cup of coffee. Over the past 18 years, Friends of Firefighters has expanded to meet the growing needs of the FDNY community by providing a range of peer support programs, financial guidance, expert counseling and wellness services to our Bravest.
Today the organization provides a safe haven in an old restored firehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn -- the restoration work was completed by the firefighters they serve. The firehouse, their headquarters, now serves as a central meeting spot for NYC firefighters, active and retired, to relax, meet with their peers, receive counseling with no stigma attached, exchange information, and access an array of services specific to their needs. For those who can't access Red Hook easily, there are satellite offices in Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Long Island.
Licensed counselors at Friends of Firefighters understand the common effects of the job such as stress, anxiety, insomnia, injury and sickness, strains on relationships and family life, loneliness after retirement or struggles with addiction. They also know that it can be hard to ask for help, especially for a community who is used to helping others. With 400,000 emergencies that our brave men and women answered the call for in the last year alone, the need for Friends of Firefighters' services and programs continues to grow as firefighters tackle the mental and physical load that their job requires.