ROCHESTER, NY | August 27, 2020
Every year, firefighters from throughout Western New York race up hundreds of stairs in full gear weighing over 45 pounds during the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb Rochester and for the 7th year in a row, firefighters from the Rochester Fire Department have been among the climbers. To honor them and all the heroes like them across the country, the Lung Association has launched its inaugural 2021 Fight For Air Climb Firefighter Calendar to raise funds to support the vision of a world free of lung disease. Calendars can be pre-ordered starting today for $20 each, to be delivered in October. Each calendar features photos of our firefighters at their local Fight For Air Climb from Los Angeles and New York to Milwaukee, Miami and everywhere in between.
The “Rochester Firefighters” team was made up of 5 firefighters in 2019. The photo which appears on the page for November 2021, includes all five team members, Amber French, Amy Niespodzinski, John Grieco, Casey Reinhart and Kevin Ryan. In 2019, the team raised over $2,000, and over their 7 years of participation, they’ve raised more than $11,200.
“Our team, Rochester Firefighters, looks forward to this event every year,” said team captain Amy Niespodzinski. “It serves as a great training and team building exercise, and it supports our community of first responders. We know there is strength in numbers when we are battling a fire - and we feel the same about battling lung disease - we want to be there to support our brothers and sisters.”
Respiratory diseases remain a significant health issue for firefighters and emergency responders. The Lung Association mission hits close to home with firefighters because of increased exposure to gases, chemicals and smoke in the line of duty. This exposure may result in the development of chronic issues, including lingering cough, hoarseness, asthma, and allergies and in more extreme cases, lung or bronchial cancer. One of the many pollutants found in smoke is particle pollution, which is a mix of tiny solid and liquid particles suspended in air so small that they enter and lodge deep in the lungs. Firefighters can inhale smoke and a wide range of chemicals that may be present in a burning building.
Among the heroes affected by lung disease include first responders to the site of the terrorist attack on Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001, many of whom developed different variants of asthma, acute rhinitis, sinusitis, sore throat and acute cough. On that day, some firefighters’ lungs aged the equivalent of 10 to 12 years in the first weeks to months following the attack from the dust they breathed. The Lung Association’s mission hits close to home with firefighters because of their increased susceptibility to lung disease, including lung cancer due to exposure of gases, chemicals and smoke in the line of duty.
“Our firefighters are our everyday heroes who are subject to lung disease based on the very nature of their jobs. We are proud to honor our local firefighters and those across the nation who protect us from lethal smoke and step up to the cause every year to support our mission to protect the lung health of our communities,” said American Lung Association Development Director in Western New York, Kaelyn Gates.
The Fight For Air Firefighter Calendars will include fire-safety tips and statistics on how fires affect our lung health, as well as tips for how to train for your next Fight For Air Climb. Additionally, Lung Association volunteers and donors will be featured in the calendar to highlight how they acted nimbly and helped keep the mission of saving lives through improving lung health going stronger than ever.
For more information about the Fight For Air Firefighter Calendar visit Lung.org/calendar.
For media seeking to schedule a media interview with the Rochester Firefighters, contact Jennifer Solomon at the American Lung Association at 516-680-8927 [email protected].
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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