Shields Under Fire began in 2018 as a local support group which was initiated after a traumatic emergency call that involved the death of a 3-month-old infant. This event triggered a negative response from a local firefighter who had lost a loved one to cancer a few years prior. As a result of responding to the event, the firefighter had issues sleeping and eating and changes began in their behavior. Their spouse was concerned and contacted Chief Josh Watts who was then prompted to seek out assistance for the firefighter. 

Shortly after this incident, it became obvious to Chief Watts that local volunteer firefighters were experiencing trauma like career departments, but they had no way to cope with the aftermath of the traumatic events. Chief Watts received training as an Emergency Chaplain and Shields Under Fire was born.

In 2020, Chief Josh Watts and Chief Joshua Phillips decided to grow the support group and expand to other areas where volunteer first responders might not have the ability to receive mental health services and began responding to local departments as part of a debriefing team.  

Today, first responders can seek an alternative way to cope with the stress of their roles as first responders by contacting Shields Under Fire to have an Emergency Chaplain visit their department and experience our services in the comfort of their own, safe environment.