Sometime during natural disasters like the California wildfires, it’s easy to overlook first responders. A fire department in San Mateo and Santa Cruz took to Twitter to celebrate their hardworking firefighters.
In photos posted by Cal Fire CZU, a group of firefighters get a rare moment of rest while enjoying their lunches. The community also showed their support with cards and flowers.
Firefighters have battled historic blazes since August 15.
Since August 15, firefighters in the state have battled more than 650 wildfires. This includes two of the largest in the state’s history. East of San Jose, the SCU Lightning Complex Fire covers 363,000 acres. Meanwhile in the northern Bay Area, the LNU Lightning Complex Fire covers 352,900 acres, according to CNN.
Many of the state’s firefighters have been pulling 24 hour shifts with little sleep. In Lake County, firefighter Jake Brennan has been one of many battling the LNU Lightning Complex Fire since Monday.
“Me and my guys have been on since Monday morning with pretty much no sleep,” Brennan told ABC 10. “[I] grew up here, from here. My parents live around here, so there’s no way I’m going anywhere until it’s over.”
First responders may be at risk for longterm health problems.
Battling fires may expose firefighters to longterm health risks including cancer, according to CBS News. Retired Captain Tony Stefani worked 28 years with the San Francisco Fire Department. After he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, Stefani started the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation. The organization funds research to study any correlation between a firefighter’s exposure to toxins and cancer.
“Something has to be done about it now,” retired Captain Tony Stefani told CBS News‘ Carter Evans. “We can’t wait for that latency period for five to 10, 20 years down the line to see if these men and women will contract various forms of this insidious disease.”
Increased humidity and low winds on Tuesday have helped firefighters get better control of the fires.