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Helping hometown heroes with proposed legislative bill

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DULUTH,MN-- Helping our hometown heroes that is the goal for a bill being proposed at the upcoming legislative session.

This is all happening with the help of Mn FIRE, a non-profit from the Twin Cities which provides tools and resources to fire fighters across the state.

President George Esbensen says the "Hometown Heroes Assistance Program" has several components but focuses on three main issues.

He says, "In terms of assisting fire fighters in Minnesota in the issues surrounding cancer, cardiac, and emotional trauma. Because those  are the three biggest killers of fire fighters."

One component the "Critical Care" initiative provides financial assistance to fire fighters diagnosed with cancer or cardiac arrest issues.

Fire fighters can receive up $30,000 to help with things healthcare and insurances plans don't cover.

Esbensen says, "That will help you with all the things that aren't covered by health care. When you have to get child care, dog care, meals, all those things."

For volunteer fire fighter Kat Proveaux this bill is personal.

She's grown up in the Rice Lake fire department had colleagues who died from cardiac arrest and suicide.

Including her father who died from a heart attack in 2015.

Proveaux says, "February 2015 my dad Randi Hiti died responding to a medical call. He had a major heart attack. It was about 14 months after our chief also had the same heart attack."

Esbensen hopes the bill will help change the stigma fire fighters face.

"Just that culture of the fire service, being the helpers to everyone else, but not asking for help themselves. Being this person with a cape on, comes racing to your defense but lacks the self awareness to ask for help when they need it. It's kind of who helps the helpers," Esbensen says.

The Hometown Heroes Assistance bill will also provide more mental health and trauma services to all fire fighters.

Especially those in rural Minnesota. 

Duluth Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj says he's in full support of the bill.

Adding this bill would help fire departments where there aren't a lot of resources.

Krizaj says,"We see a lot of stuff and it accumulates over the years. And people will ask well what's the one call. It's not usually the one call. It's this builds on this."

Hoping to help prevent others from going through what Proveaux and her department experienced.

She says, "There's so many risks to fire fighters, there's so many things we expose ourselves to that increase our risks whether or not we're doing the healthiest things in the world."

Because sometimes those who help others need help themselves.

For more information click here.

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Emma Quinn

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