February 2, 2019
Brothers and Sisters,
I am writing to inform you of recent developments with the Peer Support Team. I want you to know first and foremost that seeing firsthand the way that you all have embraced this initiative and the way that you have come together to take care of our members who may be struggling is nothing short of amazing. This is the reason that the Orlando Firefighters are a world class group of individuals.
As you may know, your Peer Support Team has had trouble gaining traction through the official channels within the City. This is what initially led us to form through the Benevolent Association. And I do believe that organizing in that manner was and is in everyone’s best interest. In that time, the men and women on this team have worked tirelessly to provide resources, outlets and support to our members that may be struggling. We have also become a resource for departments outside of ours to use when they experience horrific tragedies and become overwhelmed. We have helped establish teams locally and across the state by providing operating procedures, guidelines and idea sharing. We have a member that has a master’s degree in psychology and is also a master instructor through the IAFF. But most importantly, we have worked to build a trust in this membership. A membership that is so willing to help their brothers and sisters in need.
This leads into the purpose of this letter. Recently it was decided by this team to resign from any official duties within the City of Orlando. This was not an easy decision and it was a decision that was based on events that in our opinion were leading to a path that had potential to do more harm than good.
I am writing this to ultimately let you know that we are still functioning but in a slightly more indirect capacity. We will still continue to research best practices, find and attempt to connect the best resources and still be here should you or anyone you know need any assistance through a difficult time. We will however not be acting as the city’s CISM team.
The Union has a created a Secondary Time Bank designed to support the Peer Support Team and the Benevolent. Each member is eligible to donate up to 5 hours of sick leave per year to help support these groups. This is a small amount per person but one that can add up quickly. I urge you all to look into donating to this bank whatever time you are able to.
Please contact anyone on the team if you have any questions for us. Again, I can’t thank you all enough for how much you do for each other day in and day out. Please take care of yourselves and each other.
OFFBA Peer Support Team