As you have seen on this website and heard on our podcasts, we are very proud of our idea of creating our nonprofit corporation to assist firefighters and other first responders in need. However, it is important to keep in mind that when we do assist someone, it is often for a difficult situation. Nevertheless, it is "who we are and what we do," as firefighters.
You may have heard or read that on January 29th of this year, four people were killed in a structure fire in the small community of Wynoka OK. The word "wynoka" is Cherokee for, "sweet water." The population is less than 2000, but they have an active and dedicated volunteer fire department. We know that because two of our Brothers made the ultimate sacrifice at that structure fire.
Upon arrival, the structure was engulfed, with the front door blocked. The Chief requested mutual aid. The dispatch said the two people were trapped in a bedroom. Chief Lonnie Bolar and Firefighter Tayler Bradford, entered the structure in an attempt to rescue the civilians, after they were unable to do so through a window. Reports say that one of the firefighters reached one of the trapped people and was trying to lead them out, when suddenly, the roof collapsed. Tragically, all four were lost.
Immediately upon hearing the news, we communicated with each other and decided this was the type of call to which, we needed to respond. It took a couple of weeks to hear back from the department via social media. When we did, we explained who we are, what we do and why we wanted to assist. They were quite surprised by our plan.
Chief Bolar left a wife and four children. Firefighter Bradford left a wife and two sons. Today, we are proud to have mailed out two significant checks to the families with a personal note from us and how we share their pain and sorrow, as we do when we lose a Brother or Sister.
This is what this company wants to do. As sad and as painful as it is, we can bring some relief to a Brother or Sister and/or their families. But the only way we can do this, is if YOU help us. Would we love to see large corporate or personal donations? Sure we would! However, you can still help up when you purchase a T-shirt or use one of the "DONATE" buttons on the website to send $5, $10, $25, etc. And never forget, that when YOU make a donation, it comes from your heart!
Stay Safe & Stay Well!
A new study by Harvard University found dust collected from over a dozen firehouses in Massachusetts, including Boston, loaded with PFAS!
Our sincere appreciation to our Brothers and Sisters at Station Pride No. 1 and our dear friend, Diane Cotter for sharing this information at the link, below:
The above is a trying and telling question that we have been asking for over the past several years when since the problems of fluorinated, "forever chemicals" were discovered in the very gear that is meant (and was believed) to keep us safe.
A new article was posted on Firehouse.Com(R) this week that could very well put us on the path of wearing safer bunker gear. You can find it through the link, below:
The scourge of PFAS and other "forever chemicals" continues in the Fire Service. Seemingly, the more we are learning about this danger, the more pervasive we find it to be. Our Brothers and Sisters in the IAFF took a strong stand at their recent convention. It is up to each and every one of us to play a role to have these carcinogenic chemicals removed from our bunker gear in order to allow us to help stop cancer from being the Number ONE killer of firefighters in this country.
To see just how pervasive PFAS is, please read the following study where researchers have discovered PFAS in the basic dust in our firehouses!
Stay Safe & Stay Well and Don't Be the First Domino!
We are continuing with our Blog posts to provide you with some of the most relevant articles from around the country, dealing with the topic of "forever chemicals" (PFOS/PFAS) in our bunker gear. Please share this link with your Social Media groups to help us get the word out.
The following article is courtesy The New York Times.
It is not news that the number one killer of firefighters in this country is CANCER! At the beginning, many of us, including me, thought that the cancer cases we heard about were for those that worked the pile after 9|11. But I was wrong! Dead wrong!
One of my early guests was Bill Banks, a former firefighter in my area. Just after he retired, he was diagnosed with a cancer. We discussed it his podcast and thankfully, he directed me to other sources, the Firefighter Cancer Support Foundation and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, where dedicated firefighters, medics, etc., were there to help other brothers and sisters, who had received a similar diagnosis.
From there, a dear friend and former Executive Assistant Chief of the Broward County Sheriff's Office - Fire-Rescue Services, Todd LeDuc, guided me to the excellent team at the University of Miami's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, including Dr. Alberto Caban-Martinez and Dr. Natasha Solle. They have both been guests on the podcast as they members of a medical research teams who are focused on the Fire Service Cancer Initiative, traveling around the country, educating, researching and studying fire service cancers.
With all the major offices and organizations finally seeing and understanding the inherent danger to firefighters, a strong Cancer Initiative was started. Emphasis was placed on assuring that firefighters use all their PPE at all times on a fireground, from a dumpster fire to a high-rise, we have to perform gross decon before we even think about getting back on the rig to head back to the barn. And we made some damned good progress with that, until....
During this time, I was made aware of a cancer diagnosis for a firefighter that had an amazing career in the city just a few miles from the where I grew up. This was a city a knew and enjoyed visiting, but that was before I became a volunteer firefighter. Nevertheless, we are truly never far from our home and I took this case, personally.
Through another contact, I met Paul and Diane Cotter. Paul had 20+ years in his department. Then he was diagnosed. His wife Diane made the decision to find out how/why a firefighter who whore his/her PPE as prescribed, could still be diagnosed with one of the common types of cancer in the fire service. This led her down a path that had her looking at our PPE, specifically, our bunker gear. And she shared her work with others. Her determination and fortitude took her to find that the bunker gear that we wear to protect us, contained what are now called, "forever chemicals;" known as PFAS/PFOS.
She reached out to a nuclear scientist at Notre Dame University, Dr. Graham Peaslee, who read her letter and agreed to check out our bunker gear. Using both used and new, never-used gear, Dr. Peaslee determined that here were high levels of PFAS/PFOS in our bunker gear. And that when exposed to high heat, might be leeching from the gear into the wearer.
We have also learned that our former version of AFFF, was rife with PFAS/PFOS and thousands if military and civilian firefighters were exposed to these chemicals when they used AFFF, whether in drills or on actual flammable liquid calls.
There is so much more to discuss. But I ask you to take a few moments to visit this link to learn more about how PFAS/PFOS is affecting today's firefighters:
Let's keep the discussion going. We would like to hear from you!
If you have visited us recently, you may have seen that all our previous Blog posts and the entries in our guest pages. are all gone. Due to a problem between the Weebly Site Builder and our podcast host, Podomatic, the site had to be moved to another server, costing us all those vital pages. Add to that, that I have been nearly bedridden for the past several weeks and we have had a dilemma.
It took two visits to the local ER for a diagnosis to finally be found and it was a toxic infection that I caught. Luckily, the nearest firehouse in my community is less than a half-mile from my home. Better yet, most of our brothers and sisters at Station and Engine 64, know that I'm a former firefighter and provided superb service and care, as did Rescue 80 and Rescue 95.
I can honestly say that the experience of being on the gurney, instead of being on bench, was a very strange feeling for me.
I can share this with you. If you have seen the movie, "JUMANJI - The Next Level," wonderful actor Danny DeVito has two lines that sum up my past few weeks. First he says, "Growing old sucks!" And in a way, I have to agree. But his second line that applies here is, "Growing old....is a blessing."
I'm on some heavy-duty antibiotics and I am getting better, but slowly. The terrific ER doctor I had this past Monday, advised that it will probably take the same ten days-to-two weeks to fully recover as I spent ill in bed, without knowing why. And right now, I look at each new day as a "blessing," and will continue to keep our efforts to help our Brothers and Sisters in dire need through 5-Alarm Task Force Corp.
Finally, we all know how difficult this past year has been. However, there are those who are much worse off than us and we owe it to our communities, to help those in need. I urge you to make any denomination of money that you can afford to donate to your local food bank or Feeding America.
We will rebuild this Blog! Stay tuned!