Arizona firefighters use faith to fight mental illness, PTSD

Updated: March 13, 2018 at 6:38 am EST  See Comments

One can’t imagine the pain of seeing what first responders see when they pull up to a car accident, a drowning or a shooting. That’s why a group of firefighters is tapping into their faith to help them cope with the trauma.

“Even though we chose this career, we know that it takes its toll on us,” said Surprise Fire Department chaplain Nick Petrucci said.

Petrucci started the Christian-based group he dubbed Koinonia, which is Greek fellowship or joint participation, while serving as a Phoenix firefighter. The group began with a few firefighters meeting in a room in his home. Today, it’s grown to 100 members.

“It’s just a real comfortable place where people can come, not feel judged, they can be vulnerable, they can say, ‘Hey, I had this call and I don’t like it,'” said Petrucci.

Monday morning, the men gathered at North Mountain for food, music and prayer.

“We always do a fire department-related devotional where we can relate God’s word with what we do in the fire department,” Petrucci explained. “Today we’re talking about putting on the full armor of God, which is like our turnouts. When we go into a fire, we get turned out, we’re ready to go.”

“For us, it’s an outlet,” Phoenix Fire Department Capt. T.J. Gennaro said. “It’s like our 911, where we go for help because we’re no different than people who use the 911 system. We just have our own system that looks a little different.”

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