By Angela Hughes
The International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services is deeply saddened by the passing of our sister, Nicole Mittendorff. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and fellow firefighters in Fairfax County, Virginia, during this difficult time. Nicole’s death adds to the rapidly climbing number of suicides in the fire service. Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance has reported 116 firefighters in the United States committed suicide in 2015. Behavioral health struggles in the fire service are often overlooked, but it affects every EMS and fire department in one form or another. We encourage every department to reach out to the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance or the National Volunteer Fire Council’s Share the Load program for resources to help reduce these tragic statistics.
ANGELA HUGHES began her fire service career in 1989 as a paramedic with the Baltimore City (MD) Fire Department. She was hired by Baltimore County in 1992 and functioned as a paramedic, preceptor/coach, firefighter, fire marshal, lieutenant, and her current rank of fire captain. As the co-founder of the Baltimore County Women in the Fire Service, she continues to mentor women and serves as the president of the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services. Her committee work includes the U.S. Fire Administration Severity of House Fires, Federal Emergency Management Agency grant reviews, Volunteer & Combination Officer’s Section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs Diversity and Inclusion, National Fallen Firefighters (NFFF) Tampa 2, NFFF Suicide Symposium, and National Fire Protection Association Needs Assessment Summit. She serves on the FireRescue advisory board.