The Osakis Fire Department participated in a training to learn about the health risks accompanying their jobs on Monday, Dec. 21.

The training, taught by firefighters and other health experts, gave Osakis firefighters tips about how to protect themselves so that they can continue to protect those in their community. The class was hosted by the Minnesota Firefighter Initiative, a statewide advocacy organization that equips firefighters with resources to address the growing health crisis in the Minnesota fire service.

The Minnesota Firefighter Initiative recently received a $400,000 grant from the Fire Service Advisory Committee to train all Minnesota firefighters to become “MnFIRE Aware” of their occupational health risks by June 30, 2021. Including the Osakis Fire Department, the organization has trained 389 departments and reached more than 8,000 firefighters across Minnesota.

“By participating in this important training, Osakis proved that the health of their hometown heroes is a priority,” said George Esbensen, Minnesota Firefighter Initiative president.

The three most common health problems experienced by those in the fire service are cardiac-related, emotionally traumatic and cancerous diagnoses. In addition, four to six active Minnesota firefighters die from suicide each year, according to a news release from the Minnesota Firefighter Initiative.

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Since it began in 2016, the organization has worked to provide Minnesota firefighters with the tools they need to prioritize and protect their health. For more information, visit