Minnesota Department of Public Safety Makes Historic Ruling

By George Esbensen, MnFIRE Board President

In a landmark decision, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety has ruled that Maple Grove and St. Paul Fire Captain Michael Paidar died in the line of duty. Captain Paidar died from a rare and aggressive form of cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, on August 26, 2020, at age 53.

The decision by Commissioner John Harrington last week marks a historical first for the Minnesota Fire Service: A Minnesota Public Safety Officer Death Benefit has never before been awarded to a person who died from cancer.

In a letter to Captain Paidar’s family, Commissioner Harrington cited a number of considerations leading to the decision, including medical studies linking the number of a firefighter’s fire hours to leukemia mortality, his age and his primary physician’s statement.

“Having been in law enforcement for nearly 40 years, I understand the dangers facing public safety officers each day,” Commissioner Harrington wrote. “And it appears that in your husband’s case, the danger was not solely an immediate one. As such, I believe his death falls within the intended definition of ‘killed in the line of duty’ recognized by this state and will be certified as such.

All of us at MnFIRE continue to reflect on the loss of Captain Paidar and honor his years of dedicated public service. Please join us in expressing our gratitude to everyone who worked on behalf of Captain Paidar’s wife and children, particularly IAFF Local 21 and the Minnesota Professional Firefighters. This is an incredible step forward for Captain Paidar’s family and for all firefighters struggling with fire service-driven cancers.

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