A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lexington to serve as stop on 100-mile walk to raise awareness of firefighter cancer, PTSD and suicide

The Kentucky Fire Commission will serve as one stop on a six-day walk that began Sunday to help raise awareness about the leading causes of firefighter deaths in the United States.

The Kentucky Fire Commission will host participants of the My Brother’s Burden walk at noon on Friday at its offices in Lexington, at 118 James Court. The day prior, the group will be at the Scott County Fire Department, and will walk to Lexington Fire Station 9. They will begin their day at that station on Aug. 24 and walk to the Fire Commission offices.

“Cancer, PTSD and suicide rates among firefighters and first responders are of the utmost concern to us,” said Kentucky Fire Commission Executive Director Ronnie Day. “It’s crucial we help bring awareness to these issues and the traumatic events that our communities’ brave first responders often face, all in order to find the best way to support them and their loved ones.”

According to the International Association of Firefighters, cancer is the leading cause of firefighter death in the country. A new study by the Ruderman Family Foundation also revealed first responders are affected by PTSD at a rate five times greater than the average person, and in 2017, more firefighters and police officers died by suicide than in the line of duty.

Retired Florida Firefighter Tom “Bull” Hill began his nearly 100-mile walk across Kentucky on Aug. 19 in Burlington, and along the way he’ll stop and stay at several fire stations overnight and meet with numerous firefighters and law enforcement officials. Hill’s ultimate goal is to walk in all 50 states in hopes to bring greater national awareness of the issues responders face, and to honor those who have passed.

From Kentucky Fire Commission

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