Dallas City Council Considers Mental Health Leave for Firefighters

City leaders say two firefighters have died by suicide in the last six months

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The Dallas City Council is working on a plan that could offer paid mental health leave for firefighters in the next fiscal year.

Dallas police officers are now given five days each fiscal year after a traumatic experience while on duty.

“I think this is an oversight for council when we approved it for police, we for sure should have done this for fire. It’s just that simple to me,” Dallas City Council member Cara Mendelsohn said.

At the urging of Mayor Eric Johnson, the council’s Public Safety Committee took up the idea of leave for firefighters. The committee voted to send the measure to the full council.

“In the last six months, we’ve lost two firefighters to suicide. We have to make sure that we have the resources available to help them,” Mendelsohn said. “They’re seeing horrible traffic accidents with mangled bodies. They’re working on people – lifesaving operations that aren’t always successful. It’s a very difficult job and mentally it’s difficult. I feel like this is necessary.”

It’s estimated that the cost would be $705,600 annually and would have to be approved as a part of the next city budget.

The leave would be for firefighters who experienced a traumatic event while at work and a licensed mental health professional would request the leave. It will not roll over year-to-year.

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