Firefighters throughout western New York annually race up hundreds of stairs in full gear weighing over 45 pounds during the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb Rochester, including firefighters from the Rochester Fire Department.
To honor them and all heroes across the country, the Lung Association launched its 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 for $20, to be delivered in October. Each calendar features photos of firefighters across the U.S. at their local Fight for Air Climb.
The Rochester team was made up of five firefighters in 2019. The photo, which appears on the page for November 2021, includes all five members: Amber French, John Grieco, team captain Amy Niespodzinski, Casey Reinhart and Kevin Ryan. The team raised over $2,000 in 2019, bringing its seven-year total to more than $11,200.
“Our team, Rochester Firefighters, looks forward to this event every year,” Niespodzinski said. “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 because of increased exposure to gases, chemicals and smoke in the line of duty. This exposure may result in chronic issues, including lingering cough, hoarseness, asthma, allergies, and lung or bronchial cancer.
“Our firefighters are our everyday heroes who are subject to lung disease based on the very nature of their jobs,” said Kaelyn Gates, ALA development director in WNY. “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.”
The calendars will include fire safety tips and statistics on how fires affect lung health, as well as tips for how to train for the Fight For Air Climb. Visit lung.org for information.