Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month

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(ABC 6 News) – Fire stations and educators are taking the month of January to educate firefighters on the dangerous cancer-causing materials that they come in contact with when on the job.

“We’re really focusing a lot of our messaging on firefighter cancer awareness, preparedness mitigation wellness. Trying to get all the firefighters across the state understanding the risks and how they can mitigate those risks,” said Executive Director of MnFIRE Wayne Kwitsch.

The CDC says that firefighters are at a higher risk of certain types of cancers when compared to the general public. Fire Captain Caleb Fiene says that cleaning both at the scene and back at the station is key to staying safe.

“We understand that to protect and serve the public as we do; we’re going to get dirty. We have to go in and get the job done. But the care we put into cleaning ourselves and gear our equipment after the fact is what ensures that we are not being exposed over and over again over time,” said Capt. Fiene.

Manufactures are always improving gear for firefighters to keep them safe, but there’s a problem. “Firefighting gear is not cheap. Structural turnout gear is extremely expensive, apparatus is expensive. You know it’s not an inexpensive occupation or service, but you gotta have it,” said Kewitsch.

It’s even hard for bigger departments like Rochester Fire Department to provide. “Some of it we have here and some of it we haven’t been able to acquire yet. So, it’s evolving technology is always evolving. Safety is in everyone’s eyes. It’s just how to do we get that cause everything costs money,” said Capt. Fiene.

That’s why education is one of the main parts of preventing cancer.

“Our job is evolving all the time to make sure that we are as safe as possible so that we can continue to protect those we signed up to serve,” said Capt. Fiene.

MnFIRE says that it continues to provide education to firefighters via social media, course material, and during their initial training.