Hotline Saving Minnesota Firefighters' Lives

April 06, 2018 10:30 PM

(ABC 6 News)--The men and women helping those on some of their worst days are receiving help themselves in a time of crisis.

"It does take a toll," said Larry Mueller with the Rochester Fire Department.


A toll many firefighters feel while in the line of duty.

"There have been traumatic calls in my life that I'll never forget, luckily I have a supportive family and things that begin to bother me I have outlets that I can deal with and work with people to work through those situations."

In the 23 years Mueller has been with the Rochester Fire Department he doesn't know of a single firefighter taking their life, but that's not the case at every station.

"Our suicide rates are about 80 percent of the general population," said George Esbensen, President of the Minnesota Firefighter Initiative.

A number Esbensen and Chris Parsons, President of the Minnesota Professional Firefighters said is way too high.

"Our greatest resource is our people," said Parsons.

A hotline started in the fall is helping the 20,000 firefighters in the state.

"In the last 13 weeks we've gotten about 20 calls and a number of those people have been in serious crises where we've got them immediate help. Some of those people have been to the point where they've told us that they had a plan, they had a means and essentially we're their last call for help," Esbensen said.

He also said four to five active firefighters die from suicide every year in Minnesota.

"Firefighters are the most important resource and its firefighters helping other firefighters," Parsons said.

For our firefighters at home, a tight-knit family helps keep them going each day.

"Coming back here to a family that we know we can trust and talk to is a great benefit to the fire service," said Mueller.

The hotline number is 888-784-6634. For more information on the Minnesota Fire Initiative, click here.


Marissa Collins

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