Rhinelander firefighters ‘proud to wear pink’ for breast cancer research
You may be thinking, “Pink is a girl’s color.” You think so? Tell that to their faces.
The Rhinelander Fire Department (RFD) has picked up the pink baton and are running with it throughout the month of October for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Using funds raised through their local union, driver/paramedic Mike Wesle had pink RFD T-shirts, complete with the department’s logo, made for each firefighter.
“We take part in all types of charities, and this is a big, national charity,” Wesle said. “NBA (national breast cancer awareness) has always been a big firefighter thing.”
Wesle said firefighters are not required to wear them, but most are participating, knowing the funds, and the peculiar looks they’re getting around town, are for a good cause.
“There’s been no objections from the guys,” Wesle said. “The reaction we get is actually very positive. A lot of people have told us they are proud to see we’re doing this.” Wesle said he and several other firefighters had additional shirts made so they could participate on every shift.
“I think the general public is in favor of us doing it (wearing pink shirts),” Wesle said when asked how he thought the community felt about the shirts.
A few firefighters joked that they had been seen while on the job by members of the Rhinelander Police Department (who they share their building with,) and received some humorous responses to the pink uniforms. Police officers have a strict dress code, and seeing the RFD personnel wearing pink instigated a few wisecracks, but they say it’s all in fun.
“It might look a little funny if only a few of us were doing it, but we got the support of everyone,” said Wesle. “Even Chief (Terry) Williams and Assistant Chief (Tom) Waydick are on board and have been wearing them every day.”
National encouragement to wear pink came from the International Association of Fire Fighters in Washington, D.C.
“Obviously cancer is something that is near and dear to a lot of firefighters,” said Wesle. “It’s been proven that firefighters have a much larger chance of getting cancer than most, so its obviously something we take very seriously.”
Wesle also pointed out that, with every firefighter being either a paramedic or EMT-trained, they deal with the health concerns of Rhinelander’s citizens daily. This program adds perspective.
“We deal with people with medical issues all the time,” he said. “This is a different way we can give back.”
Wesle said he would be wearing his pink shirt every day, and added that the other members of the department are wearing pink to other community functions, such as city council meetings and school presentations, to generate even more awareness.
“It’s been very successful, and I’d like to see us do it again,” said Wesle. “We’ve sold a bunch, and we’re having a lot of fun with it.”
Editor’s note: The pink shirts being worn by Rhinelander Fire Department personnel are available for $15 at the RFD. The department has a small supply in stock, and is getting them printed at Shirts, Signs and Designs in Rhinelander. For more information, call the department at (715) 365-5400.