CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Station nightclub fire claimed the lives of 100 people and left more than 200 others with physical injuries.

But the tragedy also left many with serious mental and emotional trauma, particularly the police and firefighters who were at the scene and put their lives on the line. For some, going back to work was impossible.

The night of Feb. 20, 2003, is one former Cranston firefighter Scott Robinson will never forget.

“I didn’t realize how the fire affected me,” he told 12 News. “I knew it changed me as a person, the things I saw and the things I did. Part of that was back to that whole mentality of, ‘This is what I’m supposed to do. It’s my job,’ you know? But it was probably 2006 or so that I noticed that it was creeping into my personal life and affecting my marriage, how I worked. I found myself isolating more at work before I sought help.”

The horrific night took a toll on everyone, but many of Robinson’s colleagues were in a similar position.

“When I think back to 2003 … talking about this—behavioral heath—when it comes to the health and safety of firefighters, it just wasn’t done,” he recalled. “We didn’t talk about that stuff. We just had that mentality to suck it up. It’s part of the job, it’s what we get paid for, things you’re going to see are terrible, just deal with it.”

“It’s not only because of the Station nightclub fire, but other incidents that our members have gone through,” Robinson continued. “It kind of opened our eyes that these have lasting effects, they leave scars on us. But back then, there wasn’t a lot of programs out there, there weren’t a lot of resources.”

Robinson now uses the traumatic experience of that night to help others cope with the grief of the job. He works as a behavioral health specialist with the International Association of Firefighters in Washington, D.C., and travels the country to visit firefighters suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We’ve worked with clinicians in the area, licensed clinical social workers, mental health providers, psychiatrists, psychologists, to create a network of providers that could help our members,” Robinson explained. “Then we did that at a state level with the Rhode Island State Association of Firefighters. But in 2016, the International Association of Firefighters started a peer support training program and a live, two-day class that we do, and we’ve taught that to almost 10,000 firefighters across North America.”

“We’ve done a really good job, I think, across the country, and in Canada as well, to start building programs that are there for our firefighters when they get back from these bad calls,” he added.

After the fire, the city of Cranston also started a membership assistance program with peers who were educated in listening and general assessment to get firefighters through emotional times.