Other NJ News

Paterson Firefighter Opens Up About Struggles, Urges Others not to Suffer in Silence

ff676517442e7e44dfe5_F975326B-9924-47BC-A10F-A0A726F08947.jpeg
Paterson firefighter Kyle Hughes opened up about his struggles with alcohol. Credits: John Hund
2fbe363c95fcd8bcf8d0_2A4052E0-F4CC-4EE8-9F4C-65AC6D0AAD4F.jpeg
Kyle Hughes joined the Paterson Fire Department in 2009 Credits: Kyle Hughes
ff676517442e7e44dfe5_F975326B-9924-47BC-A10F-A0A726F08947.jpeg

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - Not a week goes by when a tale of heroism and bravery on the part of firefighters is not told. For them, running into a burning building is as natural as running out of one is for the rest of us.

That became apparent again on Monday when members of the Paterson Fire Department responded to a fire at 268 Main Street, which led to the eventual total collapse of the structure.

However, while they may mask it well, the trauma and stress faced by members of the fire service sometimes becomes more than they can handle. Not always being conditioned to speak about their feelings has caused too many to suffer in silence, seeking comfort through substance abuse, and, at an all-too alarming rate, choosing a more final solution. 

Sign Up for E-News

For one Paterson firefighter, his own struggles with alcohol were brought forward on Wednesday in front of more than 400 of his counterparts from all across the state at the NJ FMBA Education conference in Atlantic City. His story was part of a panel discussion highlighting the union’s Peer Assistance Program which offers a variety of mental health counseling opportunities to members at no cost.

Kyle Hughes, who joined the Paterson Fire Department in 2009, said that his struggle began as a college student in Nebraska upon the tragic death of his older brother in a construction accident in 1992. His “escape,” he told the audience, was in alcohol, and a lot of it. 

“I wasn’t a bad guy,” Hughes said. “I was a sick guy that didn’t know how to get better.”

Despite obtaining good jobs in the construction industry that had him traveling the country, and earning a membership in the United Association of Plumbers (UA), his struggle with alcohol abuse continued, eventually leading to his dismissal from the union.

The death of his father in 2004, Hughes said, really sent him “off the rails” for about six months until realizing, upon losing his job, that he had hit what he called “rock bottom” and decided to seek treatment.

His drinking days behind him, things were looking up for Hughes, until a breakup sent him into another tailspin, and though equipped to stay away from alcohol, he did “isolate” himself. While he does not believe he had any intention of harming himself, Hughes recalled traveling down Route 80 at speeds topping 100 MPH when he received a phone call from a fellow firefighter who, recognizing distress in his voice, invited him for a cup of coffee.

That simple act, a cup of coffee and a listening ear, and “everything changed,” Hughes said, helping him make the decision to see a therapist for more support.

“When someone wants to listen, it changes everything,” said Hughes, who now serves as the Northern District Vice President of the FMBA.

In this position, Hughes is able to speak to many others, in firefighting and beyond, about his struggles, in hopes of encouraging others to find the help they need.

“It’s been a long and, at times, difficult journey, that is never really over,” Hughes said after his speech. “I’m in a much better place now, and that’s because of the path I’ve taken. My life is full of gifts. If my words and experience encouraged just one more person to find help for their struggles, opening up the way I did was worth it.”

A standing ovation, and a hug from NJ FMBA President Eddie Donnelly, awaited Hughes as he concluded his comments with a final reminder that while they are highly trained to save others, they “have to start learning how to save (themselves).”

“What Kyle did today was articulate issues so many of us in the fire service have faced,” said Donnelly. “We have to stop suffering in silence and start speaking up, being heard, and sharing our feelings.” 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

Free Flavors Soft Serve Ice Cream (Jr. Cup or Cone) With Coupon

May 23, 2018

Fairfield, NJ - Flavors Homemade Ice Cream is offering a FREE soft serve ice cream (jr. cup or cone) when you spend $10 or more with coupon.

Flavors Homemade Is located at 653 Rt 46 West (1.98 mi) in Fairfield, New Jersey 07004 next to Jose Tejas.

*Homemade Ice Cream

*Italian Ice

*Gelato 

*Fresh waffles 

*ice ...

Evolve Cycle And Fitness Presale Happening Now!

CALDWELL, NJ - Evolve Cycle and Fitness is now offering 10 classes for only $90. That’s only $9 a class when you purchase before its official Grand Opening on Friday, June 1, 2018. 

Only two weeks left to take advantage of this limited time offer! Call Martha at 973-979-5919 or click here to sign up.

Evolve Cycle and Fitness is a Premier Fitness Boutique ...

Montclair HS Student Reported Sexual Assault in All-Gender Bathroom, Officials Say

May 17, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - According to published reports on Wednesday, Montclair Police officials are investigating allegations of sexual assault reported to have occurred in a bathroom at Montclair High School.

Montclair police officials state that officers received a report about an incident at the high school of a sexual nature that occurred around 3:18 p.m. on Monday. The ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_ca99dbbe4665a685b474_screen_shot_2018-05-22_at_9.15.03_pm

Mon, May 28, 10:00 AM

Township Hall, West Orange

2018 Memorial Day Observance

Community Calendar

Carousel_image_3dd755d9dc476b5f4dc3_unnamed__4_

Mon, May 28, 8:00 PM

West Orange High School, West Orange

Board of Education Meeting

Community Calendar Education

Carousel_image_28c899d8572458eda4f7_mini_magick20180422-110109-8dtxfl

Tue, May 29

Essex County

Primary – Vote by Mail deadline

Clarifying Points Made in Article About WOHS Air Quality Issues

May 14, 2018

Dear Editor, 

I am the advisor to West Orange High School's student newspaper, The Pioneer. My Editor-in-Chief, Anna Favetta, is the student who researched the topic and wrote the article bringing this issue to light. She worked on the article for 4 months before she had adequate and proper information for it to go to print. 

An article on the BOE presentation of the ...

What It Means to Me - A Baseball Story

We are all in amazement of the dedication and talent of our young West Orange athletes. One of the goals of our youth sports programs is to develop our players so they are ready for high school and are prepared for success at that next level of play. Throughout the course of the year we will be featuring some of our talented young athletes and coaches. This week we have the perspective of ...

West Orange On Three!

The spring season is in full swing, and we are excited to debut this new column focusing on all things youth sports!  We thought we would kick things off with an overview of the programs West Orange has to offer, and then go behind the scenes to see what makes youth sports tick.

West Orange Police Athletic League (PAL) and Mountain Top League (MTL), together with the West Orange ...

Summer 2018 Events at the West Orange Public Library

May 15, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Beginning in June, the West Orange Public Library will offer the following events for area residents of all ages:

Dinosaurs’ Rock!                                             

Monday, June 11, 4:00 p.m.

Field Station Dinosaur visits with the ...

10-Year-Old Cancer Patient Receives Donation from Randolph Hockey Family

May 21, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ — While the inter-town hockey battles on the ice between Randolph and Roxbury are fierce at every age level, when it comes to real-life battles off the ice, there is no hesitation to offer help to their neighbor.

Such is the case with a recent gesture of unity and support from the members of the Randolph varsity hockey team, when they came together to ...

A Royal Pain

I went to a big wedding over the weekend.  It was in England.

I like to think I was invited, but according to the Royal Guards and the Thames Valley Police I was not.  But more about that later.

You see, not too long ago I received an evite addressed to me from H&M@royalwedbot.co.uk.  Curiously, it was in my spam folder with a warning message. For an evite it was pretty ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...