Firefighters diets while on the job have become an increasing threat to their health and one group of local firefighters are making changes in the kitchen to improve their quality of life.
Rancho Penasquitos firefighters said their uneven working hours and high stress cater to poor eating habits, which can put them at risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
“There’s a lot of traditions that we have, some good, some not so good. And the ones that are not so good do have to do with food,” San Diego Fire-Rescue Captain Justus Norgord said. “For example, a new fire fighter when they get their first fire, it’s just tradition that they buy a bunch of ice cream.”
Since 2002, The International Association of Firefighters reports close to 60 percent of fallen firefighters have died from cancer. Station 40's firefighters have battled their own life-threatening health illnesses. That's why they said they want their bodies strong enough to beat the odds.
“To me personally, well I've seen so many of us die,” Norgord said emotionally. “Too many of us have cancer, too many of us are dying, and so it's important that we take this seriously.”
Years ago a young firefighter, Ryan, wasn’t feeling well and his doctor told him to go home and hydrate. He drank a lot of Gatorade and collapsed and died soon after, not knowing he had type 2 diabetes, Norgord told NBC 7.
“I know we have a lot of firefighters on the job that have cholesterol issues, that are dealing with prediabetic. And a lot of that is based on their choices in food,” Norgord added.
The team plans to speak at the upcoming annual nationally-attended firefighter convention Firehouse World in Las Vegas to share their healthy eating message with fire stations nationwide.
Station 40 said they collect $10 each day from each firefighter to help pay for the costs of two shared healthy meals.