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Firefighters warm up to Nite of Hope

To say the Nite of Hope Richmond cancer fundraiser and the Richmond Firefighters’ Association get on like a “house on fire” would be something of an understatement.
Members of Richmond Nite of Hope and the Richmond Firefighters’ Association celebrate another significant contribution to fight cancer.

To say the Nite of Hope Richmond cancer fundraiser and the Richmond Firefighters’ Association get on like a “house on fire” would be something of an understatement.

That’s because a typical day in the office for the association’s 212 members — about a dozen of them women — can mean being exposed to all manner of burning, hazardous materials, many of them which can cause cancer.

So, helping out a charity battling the disease is a natural.

“Cancer support is one of the causes everyone can get behind. It’s a very worthy cause,” said Cory Parker, president of the association which donated $5,000 to the Nite of Hope Richmond through the Richmond Firefighters’ Charitable Society. “We have a 50 per cent higher chance of contracting cancer than the general population. That’s why we are supporting this cancer fundraiser.

“The types of fires that occur today with so many different types of plastics, that when some are burning they can create some highly toxic chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin. Plus, there are all sorts of other potentially cancer-causing materials we can come into contact with on any given day.”

A report by the University of Cincinnati covering 110,000 firefighters determined firefighters were twice as likely to develop testicular cancer and have significantly higher rates of multiple myeloma (cancer that attacks bone marrow), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and prostate cancer.  Overall the study found 10 cancers that were either possibly or probably related to firefighting.

Each year, the charitable society supports more than 35 different charities. Among the fundraising efforts it undertakes includes the annual Christmas tree chip.

“We also do what we call ‘shaking the boot’ throughout the year where members collect donations using their boots,” Parker said. “And another big one we started a couple of years ago was donating through payroll deduction.”

In addition to the cash donation at the Nite of Hope Richmond Gala, the society provided an item to the event’s live auction which caught the attention of the foodies in the crowd.

“The lucky winning bidder will have a group of fire-fighters pay a visit to their home and prepare a dinner for eight,” Parker said, adding don’t expect stereotypical firehouse chow.

Think of something more refined or even exotic.

“We’ve got a lot of good cooks that are part of our team,” Parker said. “Food-wise, you name it. Today, we’ve got such a wide variety of ethnicities in the fire department that the food choices are plentiful.”

Plus, the meals currently served at local firehalls can also be more health conscious than you might expect.

“That comes mainly from the younger firefighters. It’s not like the old days where you’d get great big bowls of chilli,” Parker said. “They are trying to eat more healthily. There’s even vegan and vegetarian specialists,” exclaimed Parker.

“We try and mix things up.”