Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training


I just spent the most incredible week drawing and talking with our Nation's finest! Nope, not fire service personnel, but Sailors and Marines in San Diego. I was honored to take part in a Navy sponsored NCS/USO trip where we visited the USS Peleliu (an aircraft carrier), Naval Fleet Weather Center, Military Hospitals and VA wards, and participated in a panel discussion regarding the effects of humor on stress. It was inspiring to meet and draw for active service personnel, hear their stories and give them a brief respite from their daily routine. I must say drawing for the wounded soldiers at the Naval Medical Center was the highlight of my visit. I laughed, listened, listened, listened, and listened while drawing their caricatures (or, whatever they wanted). These young men and women are incredible with their resilience and spirit! There were, of course, heart breaking moments - who wouldn't be touched by the carnage of war and its savage assault on the human body. To say I have a new perspective on my personal life is an understatement!

The cartoon above was used as the opening image for our panel discussion at the Combat & Operational Stress Control Conference. In a nut shell; we need to think of humor as our first line of defense for stress. My role in the COSC panel was to discuss the parallels between the fire service and military in regards to stress. I spoke about the obvious comparisons; tradition, chain of command, pride, but also that we are both thrown into highly stressful situations at a moment's notice where we may experience disturbing and traumatic events. Unfortunately the "Macho" persona that we wear as armor can prevent us from discussing troubling emotions because we don't want to appear as weak. We tend to bottle stress up and tuck it away some place where we think it will never effect us. Unfortunately, this can become a festering wound and, over time, become a poison effecting our health, family, friends, work and job performance.

Humor is a powerful drug! We use it on a daily basis without even knowing it, but it's a medicine with healing and regenerative effects. At times, the things we talk and joke about would seem crass and inappropriate to the general public, but it performs the job of defusing stressful situations in a way that can't fully be explained. Generally playful and good-natured, other times dark and sarcastic - either way, it allows us to expel stress in a way that doesn't show vulnerability. Laughter is contagious, therapeutic, and necessary for our health, station morale, and home life. Laughter can't solve every issue, but it's an effective first response that may mitigate the problem.


Remember, if you can laugh away the stress, it can't become a poison!





I will be posting photos and drawings from my USO trip on my FaceBook page shortly:

To see more of my work, visit:






Views: 507


You need to be a member of Fire Engineering Training Community to add comments!

Join Fire Engineering Training Community

Comment by milli cater on November 3, 2019 at 6:06am

Indeed, people who stressed a lot feel better if they heat something. So, practicing an intense sports activity will be good for them. But some people are sick and nothing seems to help. In the latest years, the combination of professional help and CBD Tucson has been proven to have positive effects. People feel better.

Comment by Jack Wesson on May 3, 2011 at 9:52am
Well Done
Comment by Mike France on May 2, 2011 at 9:14am
Very nice
Comment by Ralph Everage, Jr. on May 2, 2011 at 8:41am

Very well done, sir.  I applaud your work, thank you for your efforts. 

The premise is very true.  When you are no longer laughing, its time to seek some help.  Being in the fire service, the stress WILL accumulate...even if over the years.  At some point, it never hurts to talk to a professional.


Stay safe.



Comment by John K. Murphy on May 2, 2011 at 6:55am

Excellent excellent posting. Humor goes a long way to alleviate stress and I personally appreciate what you did for our Sailors and Marines as once upon a time I was one of them serving as a Hospital Corpsman (HM2) with the Marines - 1/9, 3rd Mar Div in a land far far away.

Semper Fi

Comment by Jeff Schwering on April 30, 2011 at 2:48pm

Stong Work Brother! No truer words than humor is the best medicine, I can relate in my own way.


Be safe


Policy Page


The login above DOES NOT provide access to Fire Engineering magazine archives. Please go here for our archives.


Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to

We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our community policy page.  

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2023   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service