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Denver FD sees increase in firefighter health screenings with on-site events

The department tripled the number of firefighters completing annual blood screenings with on-site events

By Bill Carey

DENVER — In 2021, the Denver Fire Department launched a pilot Wellness Screening Program. The program provides the recommended annual physical screenings for firefighters specific to job-related health risks.

The program offers screening for urinary tract cancers, hepatitis C, HIV and heavy metals exposures, as well as routine screenings for diabetes, lipids, kidney function, liver function and complete blood count, according to a statement from Kaiser Permanente.

Additionally, men over 50 were offered prostate cancer screening.

Despite being able to go to any Kaiser Permanente lab location for the recommended screenings during their shift, participation in the recommended annual blood work was approximately 22% before the pilot program was implemented.

Kaiser Permanente lab staff, along with fire department leaders and Denver Firefighters Local 858, worked on bringing the screening to the firefighters earlier this year.

Four on-site clinical events, each lasting three days, were held for all districts and shifts. Firefighters from stations in the same district covered for one another so they all had a chance to participate while on duty. Kaiser Permanente staff also conducted blood pressure tests, weight checks and urinalysis screenings.

As a result, more than 662 Denver firefighters, nearly 60% of the firefighter workforce, completed their annual blood work and screenings, approximately 40% of which were from on-site events. The events helped to triple the number of firefighters screened.

The department has since scheduled additional on-site screenings for 2024.