News: Phoenix Society Launches a National Phoenix SOAR Campaign for Firefighters

Contact: Amy Acton, Executive Director   
Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors
Phone: 800-888-2876           

June 17, 2015
News Release


Phoenix SOAR Supports Burn-Injured Firefighters and Their Families


Grand Rapids, MI - The healing journey of a burn-injured firefighter can have its unique challenges – and the healing paths of the firefighter survivor and their family can be vastly different. A firefighter survivor often hopes to return to the profession where the burn injury occurred, while family members may struggle with the fear of loss. The physical recovery is challenging, but the psychological recovery can be overwhelming.

Phoenix SOAR® (Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery®) is a hospital-based, one-on-one peer support program, developed by the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors in conjunction with a national committee of experts, that connects people with burn injuries to survivors and family members who have “been there.” 

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Charitable Foundation, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), and the University of Kentucky partnered with the Phoenix Society to develop a firefighter peer support component for the national Phoenix SOAR program. Phoenix SOAR now offers burn-injured firefighters and their families one-on-one support from trained firefighter peer supporters.

Luis Nevarez, firefighter, (Tulare, Calif.,) who was injured in 2002, credits having a peer supporter “there for him” to support his emotional recovery as he physically healed from his injury. He attended his first Phoenix World Burn Congress in 2010 and was later motivated to become trained as a Phoenix SOAR peer supporter in 2012.

“Firefighters are trained to fight fires and handle challenges. But, as Phoenix SOAR peer supporters, we want to make other burn-injured firefighters aware of the challenging phases of recovery – emotional and psychological. When a survivor is able to reach out to someone who really understands what they are going through, and understands the culture of the fire service – it helps. It helps being around other firefighters who have faced similar trauma or challenges… I want someone to look at me and say ‘Because of you, I didn’t give up!’” – Luis Nevarez, Division Chief, City of Tulare Fire Department; burn survivor; Phoenix SOAR-trained peer supporter

As part of the project funded through DHS/FEMA’s Grant Program Directorate for Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program - Fire Prevention and Safety Grants, the Phoenix Society formed a steering committee to guide the development of a national outreach and education campaign designed to broadly publicize peer support and other resources available for those in the fire service and their families who have been affected by a burn injury. This steering committee is furthering the work that the Phoenix Society and project partners – IAFF Charitable Foundation, NFFF, and the University of Kentucky – have accomplished in this area.

In addition to the project partners, members working in healthcare organizations, Phoenix SOAR programs and fire departments, as well as burn-injured firefighters and their spouses, participated in the meeting to offer their diverse perspectives to help build a successful national campaign and help expand awareness of these peer support services within the fire service and healthcare communities.

Thanks to their efforts, the national campaign has been launched with a new promotional video, personal videos by burn-injured firefighters, outreach materials, and social media announcements. Find more about Phoenix SOAR for the fire service at ; Watch the new PSA at

Burn survivors and their families do not have to go it alone as they recover from burn trauma. Connect with Phoenix Society and find additional education, resources, and support for burn survivors, their families, healthcare professionals and fire service at ;


Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors - People who suffer burn injuries often have a challenging time getting back to living. Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors helps them do exactly that. Since 1977, the Phoenix Society has worked with survivors, families, healthcare professionals, the fire industry and donors to support burn recovery, improve the quality of burn care, and prevent burn injuries. We are the only national non-profit organization helping survivors meet their challenges with the community support and the tools they need to thrive again. Phoenix Society, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, takes its name from the legendary bird that is consumed by flame but rises again, more vibrant than before. To learn more, visit .

Connect with us at:  Twitter:  @psburnsurvivors, Blog:,


Funding for this project provided through DHS/FEMA’s Grant Program Directorate for Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program - Fire Prevention and Safety Grants.

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