Firefighter and Franklin County Peer Support Team Member Lance Comeau with son, Jr. Firefighter Bryce Comeau. LANCE COMEAU PHOTO

As I stepped into the office area to interview firefighter Lance Comeau, I could feel the energy of firefighters who had been there before me. As I looked out into the bay, where the large, red and chrome imposing fire engines were parked under watchful bright lights, the energy, for a brief moment, felt like it wanted to rise out of the bay and swallow me whole. I took a soft breath and sat in the chair opposite Lance.

Lance isn’t only a full-time firefighter; he represents the Farmington Fire Department on the Franklin County Peer Support Team, along with other firefighters, EMS, Police (local and county), and Dispatchers. That Farmington funds Lance’s portion of being on this team speaks volumes for their commitment to the wellness of the men and women who dedicate their lives to the service of others.

Before becoming a firefighter, Lance was in trucking, working for another company before owning his truck, and for a while, he was employed at the Jay Paper Mill. At the time of the explosion in Farmington at LEAP, Inc., September 16, 2019, he learned how shorthanded fire departments are, particularly rural departments, and felt the calling to go into service. He took his Fire 1 & 2 training and soon took a position per diem before snagging a full-time position with the Farmington Fire Department. Through his work, he met his wife, a firefighter who now works per diem in Jay, Maine. His son is a Jr. firefighter.

Lance has a heartfelt love for his work family. His easy manner and laugh make it clear why he is not only a firefighter but also a peer-to-peer leader. How does he recognize wellness for himself and his fire family?

“I identify stress factors as anything out of the norm. Are they drinking more, exhibiting anger, or having that 1,000-mile stare? We have group meetings that last more than an hour. We don’t fix; we’re there to support. We want them to be able to identify stress factors like fight or flight mode or even notice what they eat. Your body prepares to eat as soon as you see food. Is it good food?

“They need to be able to carry a normal lifestyle and fire service. Last year, we had three debriefs and 30 referrals; this year, we’ve already had one debrief and 11 referrals. We’ve had excellent progress with our mentor program. We utilize “seasoned” firefighters to encourage and mentor younger participants. Volunteers, especially rural, aren’t in it all the time. They’re less likely to see fatalities so that the impacts can vary. We prefer to meet in an off-duty place.


“Guys don’t like to share. Breaking the misconception that group work means you’re weak is hard. They must be healthy, collaborative, and expressive to keep the crew going. He likes to be out in nature and listens to motivational speaker Wim Hof’s podcast.”

The Hof program trains participants to increase oxygen levels via breathing techniques, ice-cold plunges, heat therapy to build stress muscles, and meditation, all practices that affect heart rate variability.

Lance explains his interest in firefighting: “At first, as a volunteer in 2001, I saw firefighting as fun, spraying water on a fire. As time passed, I saw it as a means of helping people. I naturally want to help. The idea of helping has become suppressed.”

Sensitive and spiritually balanced, Lance speaks of his spiritual relationship with his work and life: “I find my courage through Jesus. Courage is doing the right thing despite the danger. Living for God has made me more helpful to those around me. Have I done today what is pleasing to my life? It’s key to living a productive, fulfilled life.”

As our interview closed, I was reminded of this: “The thing you call a mess may be the greatest opportunity to know yourself” (Lillian Lake)

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