The Duluth Fire Department has joined the ranks of men nationally who have turned November into 'Movember' by letting their facial hair grow.  The mustaches they sport are part of an effort to shine the spotlight on men's health - specifically prostate and testicular cancer and mental health.

Over the next few weeks, the Duluth Fire Department will feature members showing off their mustaches on their social media pages.

According to Duluth Fire Captain Brian Black, the mustache-effort in November works on multiple levels:

"Growing mustaches is not only a way for members of the department to bond and have a slight competition around the style and thickness of stache's, the month also brings awareness to serious issues that are not a laughing matter."

As part of their daily routine, the department offers chances for crew members to receive positive mental health opportunities.  That's important has PTSD and depression rates among firefighters and police officers have been found to be "as much as five times higher than the rates within the civilian population".  That depression rates sadly can translate into higher suicide rates for first responders.

Captain Black offers that the "togetherness" of the department's members is beneficial; "Everyone works together, eats together, and endures a lot of heavy types of calls together.  It's a place where we all know what each other are going through and can provide a safe place for people to open up about how they are really doing".

Duluth Fire Department fire truck outside of the Downtown Duluth fire station
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

That's also why the department has an internal peer support group.  That group allows the fire departments members the chance to discuss the issues facing them - at work and at home.  According to details released by the department, "[m]embers often talk about how close knit they are with their co-workers".

Similar to the high rates of mental health issues, cancer is also a "dangerous threat to firefighter health and safety".  The International Association of Fire Fighters reports that between 2002 and 2019, cancer caused 65% of career firefighter line-of-duty deaths.  Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety details that "firefighters have a nine-percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population in the United States.

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Along with their efforts in "Movember", the department encourages other men to take part in the November focus.  At the same time, they urge men to visit the doctor regularly, get screened for cancer, and to be aware of signs of depression and suicide.

Duluth Fire Department fire truck at Downtown Duluth, MN station
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

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