What the 2021 Legislative Session Could Mean for Firefighter Health

As we’re looking ahead to the next legislative session in early 2021, the disparity between fire service spending in Minnesota versus nearly every other state continues to put our hometown heroes in danger.

Minnesota ranks 48th in the nation in per-capita fire service spending, despite being the 21st most populous state and 12th largest in area. Critical funding shortages throughout Minnesota departments make it difficult for fire service leaders to prioritize firefighter health measures and equipment, such as department-wide health checkups, gear-cleaning tools and mental health resources.

All public decision-makers, from the State Capitol to city halls, must make the Minnesota fire service a funding priority, not simply to protect the lives and property of Minnesotans, but to give firefighters the help they need to stay healthy and optimally productive in service to their communities.

MnFIRE is currently lobbying Minnesota legislators for $7.3 million to start moving the needle toward appropriate funding for firefighter health. The Hometown Heroes Assistance Program (SF2264 and HF1782) will ensure all of Minnesota’s 20,000 firefighters have access to the care needed to handle a cardiac, emotional trauma or cancer diagnosis. The Hometown Heroes Assistance Program will:

  • Provide a statewide “Critical Care” policy for all Minnesota firefighters which covers diagnoses of cancer or cardiac issues. Coverage amount is $30,000 per diagnosis.
  • Create a MnFIRE Assistance Program (MnAP) for all Minnesota firefighters targeting emotional trauma issues unique to the fire service.
  • Ensure additional MnFIREAP support for firefighters who remain in need beyond initial treatment sessions.
  • Support ongoing annual MnFIRE Awareness training for every Minnesota firefighter. Changing the current culture in the Minnesota Fire Service is integral to long-term reduction of the incidences of cancer, emotional trauma and cardiac.
  • Sustain annual MnFIRE Awareness Training for medical doctors and mental health professionals statewide so all firefighters in Minnesota have regional access to informed and trained medical professionals to help with prevention, mitigation, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, cardiac and emotional trauma.

We must confront the health issues facing Minnesota’s fire service with the same bravery, determination and commitment our firefighters bring to protecting Minnesotans.

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Thanks to Incident Management Systems for sponsoring challenge coins at our upcoming MnFORE Golf Tournament on May 24. Register here: https://bit.ly/2RxUo4p

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