BURNSVILLE, Minn. (FOX 9) - The Burnsville Fire Department opened a new fire station Saturday that promises to help address one of the biggest dangers firefighters face in the line of duty: cancer.
The disease is the leading cause of death among firefighters, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Burnsville's new facility aims to help mediate that risk by designating different zones to keep contaminated equipment away from staff while also using an exhaust system that sucks away toxic fumes.
"Firefighters are three to four times more likely to get cancer than the general population," Burnsville Fire Chief BJ Jungmann told Fox 9. "We sure hope in the next generation of firefighters we see that at least cut in half, if not go back to the general population,"
The new facility, which came with a price tag of $17.5 million, is three times the size of the previous one (44,000 square feet compared with 13,000 square feet), with plenty of room to grow.
It also includes a combination of circadian lighting and natural light to help boost firefighters' mental health, and is located within a mile of their previous location, so response times shouldn’t change.
Then there’s outdoor wellness spaces, a large gym and training area, a rooftop patio, a zen garden, and other options to decompress and cope with the trauma of the job.
Burnsville’s full-time firefighters work on 24-hour shifts, so it was important for their facility to feel like home, and now it does. Jungmann says his staff of 48 will be able to operate better out of their new space, with their health and safety front of mind.
"You’re going to have well-rested, more well-trained and healthier firefighters, So it’s not something that people can see, but it’s more of the unseen that makes us more sustainable," he said.
Burnsville Fire Station No.1 is one of two fire stations in Burnsville and they’re also currently working on plans to revamp their second station.