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Fire Service Resources

Taking Care of Our Own®

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, through a Department of Justice grant, offers a training program to help fire departments prepare for the worst — a line-of-duty death or serious injury. Fire service personnel and families who have lost a firefighter in the line-of-duty helped develop this one-day course called Taking Care of Our Own®. It covers pre-incident planning, survivor notification, family and co-worker support, and benefits and resources available to the families.

A Fire Service Guide to Preparing for a Line-of-Duty Death

A fire department does not know when it will have a line-of-duty death or serious injury. Does it have a plan in place? Are personnel records current? Does the department know how to make timely and proper notification to the survivors? Fire chiefs and survivors tell us that most fire departments are not prepared for a line-of-duty death. Taking Care of Our Own® provides fire department personnel specific information and valuable insights.

Course Presenters

Each training team includes a chief, members of fallen firefighters’ families, and a mental health professional. In addition, the Foundation invites family members from the local area of the training to participate.

Target Audience

This course is designed for senior fire officers, career or volunteer, chief officers and senior deputies of federal and state government, honor guard commanders, chaplains, and officials of national and state fire organizations.

Course Modules

Module One

In Module One participants assess their own views and attitudes on key points that the training will cover. Throughout the training, the participants can compare these with some of the principles and procedures being suggested. The first module concludes with first-hand experiences of a chief and a family member whose stories set the stage for the rest of the day.


Module Two

Module Two focuses on the importance of pre-incident planning. It covers: 1) putting together a pre-incident plan for line-of-duty deaths and serious injuries; and 2) maintaining up-to-date employee emergency contact information. Class participants discuss ways to support the family immediately after the death, during the funeral planning and service, and long term.


Module Three

Module Three deals with notification of the survivors. It discusses the five basic principles of notification and lets the participants suggest ways to handle difficult situations.


Module Four

Module Four covers benefits that may be available to survivors, including the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits and State and local support.


Module Five

Module Five presents the basic concepts associated with grief and mourning and explores the challenges of dealing with sudden death. It ends by asking the participants to reframe inappropriate statements commonly made to persons who are grieving.


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Our Results

To measure the effectiveness of Taking Care of Our Own®, the Foundation sends participants a questionnaire six months after completion of the course. We ask participants what actions they have taken as a result of the course, to provide suggestions, and to share any procedures or plans developed as a result of the program.

Fire officers, firefighters, chaplains, and other personnel told us they have taken the following actions as a result of the training program:


updated employee emergency contact information


reviewed and revised an existing plan or policy for line-of-duty deaths


used the training materials to develop documents and plans in their department


used the Benefits Checklist and/or the Foundation’s list of state benefits to update information on benefits available to department members


developed SOPs for line-of-duty deaths


42% assigned personnel to key positions such as family liaison, notification team, etc.

The class has led to the development of numerous resources:

Standard Operating Procedures

and other guides developed by agencies and departments whose members participated in the training program are available through a resource section on this website.

A Resource Guide

containing key materials from the class provides a ready reference for departments to use. The Foundation has disseminated over 30,000 copies of this guide.

An electronic newsletter

An electronic newsletter gives participants information on updated survivor benefits, legislation related to line-of-duty death issues, and new course materials and resources.