National Wildfire Coordinating Group

RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)

Wildland Fire Mental Health

RT-130 Decorative banner. Group of photos depicting wildland firefighters performing various duties.

Highlights the importance of mental health in wildland fire. The video also emphasizes the importance of work-life balance and highlights the resources available to help those in need.
Category: Medical
Core Component(s): Human Factors, Communication and Decision Making
Estimated Delivery Time: 45 minutes; Video Length: 18:31



Provide tools to build resilience to face adversity, improve mental preparedness, recognize the importance of self-care, and recognize the effects from cumulative stress, critical incident stress, and other mental health related issues, including suicide. Emphasize the importance of asking for help and offering information about mental health care resources.

Facilitator Preparation

Facilitating the Discussion

  • Show the video.
  • Facilitate a small or large group discussion using the activity and discussion questions:
    • In small groups, discuss how longer, more complex fire seasons have impacted you both physically and mentally. How have they impacted friends and loved ones? Have each group list them on a chart. Share each list with the full group.
    • In the same small groups, identify signs that you are stressed. List those on a chart as a group. Then list what activities you engage in to reduce stress, to feel better. Perhaps it is to go fishing, catch up with friends, go to a football game, walk your dog, or read a book. Have each group share the signs that they are stressed and the mechanisms they use to decompress. 
    • Finally, conduct a conversation on what factors contribute to deaths by suicide in the wildland fire community. Do a search for current articles for factors that are impacting the wildland fire community currently (for example: Time to Understand and Act on Wildland Firefighter Suicides). Visit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, the NIFC CISM page, and other valid sources to review information currently available regarding numbers of deaths by suicide to date. Is there a rise? Why or why not?

Conduct Activity #1 (Optional)

  • In the same small groups, discuss the following questions, then share responses with the whole group:
    • Discuss positive and unhealthy coping mechanisms. How do these look different? How can you move away from the unhealthy coping mechanisms and practice the positive ones?
    • Discuss what positive coping mechanisms enhance resilience and help you to cope with the impacts of cumulative and chronic stress, both during the season and the off-season. Share with the group.
    • Have each group capture a list of things they do to maintain their resilience throughout the fire season. What keeps them going? For example, activities on their off days such as cooking their favorite meals at home, catching up with friends, going fishing etc. Capture these lists on large sheets of paper to display for the room to see and discuss.

Conduct Activity #2 (Optional)

  • Move participants into new small groups.
  • Watch the video COVID-19: Psychological Transition and Balance.
  • Have individuals complete the burnout worksheet.
  • Discuss with the groups and ask if anyone is surprised by where they fall on the scale. Have a large group discussion on the factors contributing to burnout and keep a running list on a flip chart of the responses. Encourage people to submit one to three work answers for what contributes to their burnout. Lead a discussion on these factors, how can they be mitigated, and what the roadblocks to mitigating them are, etc.


When working with the EAP, the following tips can create a better experience for individuals:

  • Ask for a clinician that has experience working with first responders and in trauma.
  • If a co-worker or friend is experiencing a crisis, you can reach out to the EAP and start the conversations to help find them a clinician that is the right fit. You don’t have to let someone in crisis navigate the EAP alone.
  • If the counselor you get isn’t a good fit, you can ask for a new counselor.
  • Investigate what other resources are available from your agency EAP. Support in financial planning, adult and childcare services, and other resources may be an option, and it is good to share these out during your refresher.

Additional Video Information

This video is also available as a download.  (Size 2.8 GB)
Download the .srt file for closed captioning (you may need to right click and Save As). For information on how to add closed captioning to a video, see this how to page.

Note: For Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, right click the word download and select Save Link As; For IE, right click and select Save Target As.



Print This WFSTAR Module




Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 

Please Provide Feedback

NWCG values your constructive input and we thank you for taking the time to provide feedback.

Although contact information is optional, we hope that you provide a way for us to contact you in case we need clarification on your comment. If you would like to be contacted regarding your feedback, you must provide contact information. 

Due to recent hacking behavior, we are temporarily suspending our ability to upload documents.  If you need to attach additional information, please email the file to

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.