We’ve got a soft spot here for the men and women who dedicate their lives to fire service and rescue. As discussed here before, my father was a firefighter, a captain at one of the busiest fire houses in the country. Growing up around firemen, one thing we’ve noticed over the years is the cancer risk as well as respiratory issues seem to be noticeably higher among this group. When my dad started so many years ago, the department didn’t even provide air masks or respirators. Most of these men are long retired or dead, but besides the brotherhood, they all had one thing in common, the fire house cough.
Recently, retired firefighter Tom “Bull” Hill is on a 640 mile journey from Key West to Tallahassee, Florida walking to raise awareness regarding benefits that families of firefighters DON’T receive when the spouse dies of cancer when exposed to hazards on the job. With over 30 years of service with Orange County Fire Rescue, his walk started in memory of two fallen friends who were disgusted over the lack of benefits for their survivors.
Hill traveled over a 100 miles when firemen from Miami caught up with him and offered to carry his pack to ease the burden and offered a place to rest, eat, and sleep overnight at the station. Word traveled, and all along the route supporters have turned out to walk a few miles with Hill and carry his “burden”. He’s collected patches from the various departments and Hill started a ledger of names to remember those who died in the line of duty, medical issues, and suicide.
Earlier this week, as Hill made his way north, Danny, our friend and colleague in central Florida joined Bull Hill on the march. Danny is a couple of years away from retirement so he understands the impact this health situation can have on the families of his brothers and sisters in fire service. He is also the talented designer behind a touching memorial for firefighters, a bronze cremation urn that is a sculpted fire helmet that can be personalized with name, department, and rank.
A beautiful tribute that is made by American craftsman for true American heros. Danny, we thank you for your service and for supporting awareness on the March of the Bull. You can support the men and women of the Florida fire departments by signing the petition here.