The Minnesota Firefighter Initiative (MnFIRE) is dedicated to providing Minnesota's firefighters with the tools they need to prioritize and protect their health by focusing on the three health problems most commonly experienced by those in the fire service: cardiac, cancer and emotional wellness.
This initiative is designed to equip firefighters and their families with the resources they need to educate about, prevent and treat the common illnesses among firefighters, empowering them to make good decisions.
Heart disease is the number one killer of firefighters nationwide and is by far the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths in the fire service. Cardiac distress is not limited to overweight or out-of-shape firefighters; in fact, even young and healthy firefighters suffer from hardened arteries and impaired heart function after just three hours of prolonged firefighting.
An abundance of recent research pertaining to firefighter health shows that those in the fire service experience much higher rates of emotional distress than the general population – particularly in the areas of sleep disorders, depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal ideation/action.
The rate of line-of-duty deaths from cancer-related illness is rapidly increasing and is on pace to overtake heart disease as the leading killer of firefighters nationwide. The fire service must improve efforts to educate firefighters and limit occupational cancer risk through proper training, use and cleaning and maintaining protective gear during all phases of firefighting.