Updates from the front lines in the fight against occupational cancer in the fire service.

Director Spotlight Eric Monroe

Battalion Chief Eric Monroe started his fire service career as a volunteer when he was just 16 years old and moved to a full-time paid position at 21. Almost 37 years later, he is a Peer Support Team Lead for the Shoreline Fire Department as well as Peer Fitness Trainer helping to develop the Wellness Program. He has been on the Health and Wellness Committee, Safety Committee, Public Educator and Trainer for the School District, and has served in various positions as an Executive Board member of his local IAFF 1760.  Eric does not know how to hold still!

Eric’s research on Cancer Prevention in the Fire Service in 2011 is how he found the Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN). After talking with their representative, he was asked to lead the FCSN in Washington State. With a goal to elevate the FCSN brand to be an “Educational Non-Profit” not just a charity, Eric implemented the 24-hour response to cancer calls. When a Washington State Firefighter diagnosed with cancer calls the FCSN for help, Eric gets back to them with in 24 hours to deliver the toolbox, review the contents, explain resources available, and offer mentor services.

To ensure the success of this monumental and important outreach, Eric created district representatives in multiple counties across Washington State. When Eric gets a call for help 300 miles away in Spokane, his representative Dan Ward will get the honor of meeting with the firefighter and delivering the toolbox.

Washington State District Reps have other important duties helping the FCSN’s mission: Bill Hoover (Kirkland Fire) is on the Health and Safety Committee, is PIIERS co- developer, and currently working on the Senate Bill 5175 committee which incentivizes departments with premium discounts for adopting best practices to improve the safety and health outcomes for firefighters and is set to launch the pilot this July; Steve Austin (Richland Fire) and Dan Ward (Spokane Valley) serve on the Health and Safety Committee for the Washington State Council of Firefighters; Dane Hammond (Camas Fire) and Bob Durham (Kennewick Fire) were instrumental with developing the Healthy In, Healthy Out Project, voiced by Dirtiest Jobs Star, Mike Rowe. Following California’s PERS (Personal Exposure Reporting System), Eric and Bill created PIIERS including Injury, Illness, and Exposures Reporting System for Washington State Fire as well as the other IAFF 7th district Firefighters to have documentation throughout their careers.

Volunteering with FCSN-WA keeps our people busy with booths at conferences, presentations at fire departments and classes in cancer prevention at the recruit academies. The true future of cancer prevention is with the next generation of Firefighters and their healthy habits. Eric is part of all Recruit Academy programs teaching the FCSN way to very receptive learners.

Many Fire Chiefs have called for advice when finding out a member of their fire department has been diagnosed with cancer, which is a true compliment to Eric’s dedication and trust that leaders have in his experience. Eric specifically tailors his presentations for Fire Departments, Conferences for Fire Chiefs, Fire Investigators, young leaders, and volunteers get the same FCSN message delivered in a way that relates to them.

Eric’s wife of 26 years, Lorraine went through cancer treatments 2013-14 and is incredibly supportive of his work with FCSN.  She goes with him to help deliver toolboxes and answer the first round of questions many newly diagnosed Firefighters have. A mentor herself, Lorraine continues to provide guidance and support.

Eric has two daughters, Mikayla and Alison, who are very proud of their father’s volunteer work with FCSN.