CFD offers perspective on Arizona firefighter deaths

(Source: Scott Garrand/WCIV)

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Charleston 9 left a mark on Capt. Bill Haigler; he literally has a memorial to the men tattooed on his arm.

Haigler is a Charleston Fire Department peer support team member. He identified with other firefighters around the country: they make up a small group, banded together by tragedy.

Firefighters in Arizona are now a part of that group after losing a team of 19 firefighters who died Sunday when a wildfire shifted directions and trapped them.

"We know the loss. We know the pain, everything they're going through," Haigler said.

When the Sofa Super Store fire happened, firefighters came from elsewhere to help the Charleston community grieve. Now, Charleston firefighters like Haigler were specially trained to do the same. They traveled the state and country helping other communities cope with a line-of-duty loss.

"They're talking to them about anger issues, the fact they can't sleep, or they're upset with what's going on," Haigler said.

Deborah Blalock runs the Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center. She said the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation will send firefighters to Arizona. They're members of departments like Charleston's, who can understand the struggle to heal.

"I think one of the biggest things our guys will do is show them you can recover. There is life after the loss. You can be resilient," Blalock said.

Haigler said they already offered help to Arizona and are ready to go as soon as they get a call.