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Firefighter group fighting cancer with specialized hoods for line of duty

By: Karen Scullin

RAMSEY, Minn. (KMSP) - As many take time to recognize firefighters and first responders on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, some people are taking it a step further to help protect them in the line of duty.

While firefighters are known for battling flames, many face a different fight: cancer. The International Association of Firefighters says the disease has become the leading cause of line of duty deaths for firefighters - 60 percent will die from it.

“Houses burn at 400 plus toxins and the old houses had a lot less toxins in them, so they had to manufacture hoods that could block the carcinogens that could come in and protect the firefighters' head, neck and shoulder area from just those carcinogens seeping in,” said Tim Trainor of the Minnesota Firefighters Foundation.

It was just two years ago, the Minnesota Firefighters Foundation was organized after a Fox 9 investigation into the large number of firefighters battling cancer. The group now works to fight that trend.  

On Tuesday, players took part in a charity golf event to raise money to purchase the specialized hoods.

“They actually come over our masks, but they actually have barriers in them or fibers in them that allow for the carcinogens to kind of stop and not penetrate,” said Trainor.

Of the 723 fire departments in the state, about 80 percent are volunteer. It’s those volunteer departments that are the biggest concern.

“Larger departments typically have funding whereas the smaller departments aren’t writing a lot of grants or they’re prioritizing a lot of things ahead of this, I think it’s an educational or cultural shift,” said Trainor.


 From left to right. Kelly Piller, Dr. Stephen Hecht, Dr. Dorothy Hatsukami, Sylvette Lopez

From left to right. Kelly Piller, Dr. Stephen Hecht, Dr. Dorothy Hatsukami, Sylvette Lopez

Masonic Cancer Center Partners with Minnesota Firefighters Foundation on Cancer Research Study

Led by renowned cancer researchers, Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD, and Stephen Hecht, PhD, a new study out of the University of Minnesota will be focused on cancer risk in firefighters, thanks to a new partnership between the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Firefighters Foundation.

The idea for this study came from current firefighter and MNFFF.org board member, Kelly Piller, who saw a similar research project in action with colleagues in Florida.

“I have so much passion for this and pride being a firefighter, I want to stop at nothing to make sure that we are able to gather as much information as possible regarding cancer in the fire service,” said Piller, a second-generation fire service veteran. “By partnering with Drs. Hecht and Hatsukami, we know we have the best minds in the business at work for our health and safety.”

The study will focus on several types of cancer such as skin, oral, non-hodgkin's lymphoma, testicular, bone, brain, prostate, stomach, and colon. Firefighters are not only more likely to be diagnosed with certain kinds of cancer, but also their chances of getting lung cancer and dying from leukemia directly increase as exposure to fire increases over time because most departments oftentimes don’t have the best safety equipment available. This can lead to increased rates of exposure, which has negative effects on the firefighters health.

We look forward to our collaborative efforts to reduce the risk of cancer in our Minnesota firefighters,” said Hatsukami. “They protect the citizens of Minnesota and we need to protect them.”

About the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota is a Comprehensive Cancer Center designated by the National Cancer Institute. For more than 25 years, researchers, educators, and care providers have worked to discover the causes, prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer and cancer-related disease. Learn more at cancer.umn.edu.

About the Minnesota Firefighters Foundation

MNFFF.org was founded by firefighters in a few communities outside the twin cities who were concerned about the staggering number of deaths being attributed to ongoing health risks on the job. These firefighters began to think of ways to give back and make it their mission to help firefighters and fire departments with getting the word out about not only the challenges of being a firefighter but also the increased number of cases where firefighters have been diagnosed with serious health issues. The “wear your mask” campaign is about providing a quicker solution to help purchase the necessary equipment through fundraisers and private donations.


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Thank You

We met up with the Life Scan Wellness Team at the 2017 Safety and Health Conference in Orlando Florida. Chris Adams and Kelly Piller both had a Life Scan performed.

Each Life Scan exam has the added value benefit of ultrasound imaging assessments of the internal organs, heart, and vascular system as well as cardiac and pulmonary testing, extensive laboratory blood profiles, infectious disease testing, diet and nutritional analysis, a state-of-the-art fitness evaluation, and a personalized wellness plan.

Contact Trudy Pastine to learn more and schedule your Life Scan NOW. It could save your life.


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FDNY hero who evacuated hundreds on 9/11 dies at 45 of cancer


INVISIBLE DANGER:
Firefighters and cancer

(KMSP) - A Fox 9 investigation finds some Minnesota firefighters are not being educated or trained on how to prevent cancer risks while on the job, even though a large percentage of firefighters want more help in cutting the risks of getting the disease. (read more)

 
 
 

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Minnesota Fire Fighter’s Foundation 1st Annual Golf Fundraiser