The Golden Valley Fire Department joined fire departments becoming “MnFIRE Aware” of their occupational health risks last month. The training, taught by firefighters and health experts, gave firefighters tips on how to protect themselves from the three problems most commonly experienced by those in the fire service: cardiac issues, emotional trauma and cancer.
More Minnesota firefighters are losing their lives due to occupational health issues. In addition to cancer and cardiac-related deaths, four to six active firefighters die from suicide each year.
The Golden department joins a list of more than 8,000 firefighters who have received the training. The training class was hosted by the Minnesota Firefighter Initiative, a statewide organization that equips firefighters and the people who care about them with resources to address the health crisis in the Minnesota fire service.
MnFIRE Aware Trainings are available both in person and online at no cost to departments. The program also offers a confidential, toll-free helpline (888-784-6634) for firefighters in crisis.
The nonprofit is also spearheading a legislative initiative to improve access to care for firefighters. The effort is currently referred to as the Hometown Heroes Assistance Program and its formal introduction is planned for the 2021 legislative session.