By Jacob Mathias
The Grand Rapids Fire Department and firefighters have gone pink to bring awareness not only to breast cancer but all cancers.
The Grand Rapids Fire Department recently finished some exterior upgrades to their station and when they had to decide what color to paint some concrete safety posts, pink came to mind as a joke but after some thought was deemed appropriate. The firefighters are also sporting and selling pink t-shirts to help raise funds for the Riverview Hospital Patient
“This touches everybody’s family. You’re going to know somebody who’s had breast cancer or some kind of cancer,” said Captain Mike Szwajkowski. “It’s an important thing.”
He said many of the firefighters’ families and friends have been diagnosed and died of cancer. Cancer also appears frequently in the firefighters themselves, a common hazard of the job because of the various carcinogenic smoke and fumes they breathe while on calls.
“If a firefighter dies from cancer, they presume…that you contracted it through the stuff you came in contact with in your career of being a firefighter,” said GRFD Chief Don Bohn.
As well as the pink posts, the GRFD is selling pink t-shirts emblazoned with their logo in an effort to raise funds for the Riverview Patient Care Fund which provides gas cards, cab rides, wigs and other incidentals to help those going through cancer treatment.
About 50 t-shirts have been sold so far and Fire Chief Don Bohn said they’ll sell until people stop buying them.
“I think it’s going to be neat that you can walk around and everytime you see a pink Grand Rapids t-shirt, you know that person made a donation to the cancer care patient fund,” said Bohn. “If you see every third person in Rapids walking around with a pink t-shirt on you know we did a really good thing.”
Bohn said they chose to donate to the Riverview Patient Care Fund because they not only provide service to cancer patients but also work with the department to provide medical training, equipment and supply kits for first responders.
“It’s one hand washes the other with this kind of stuff,” said Szwajkowski. “We’re not just about firefighting. We’re there to help the community.”
The t-shirts can be purchased at the Grand Rapids Municipal Building or Fire Department. Shirts are $12 for sizes small to extra large and $15 for anything larger.
The Grand Rapids Municipal Building and Fire Department are located at 2410 48th St. S in Wisconsin Rapids.