Hi Again: Here is the original email I sent to Al that resulted in him being highlighted in the article. I think either Greg Hewitt or Greg Cruikshank from Owen Sound would be good contact people who might pursue this cause. Good Luck
Originally Posted by caring daughter
As you may recall I have a heart felt passion to get some research done that will positively link ALS to firefighting. A couple of weeks ago I spoke with a fellow from the IAFF. Today I got this information below that I would like to pass on to you. Because your exposure to ALS and many other firefighters affected by this disease is more vast than my own I would like to also pass this contact information on to you in hopes that you too will contact the Globe and Mail reporter. Let me know what you think Thanks Al. Shelly
From: Hewitt Greg [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Monday, June 25, 2007 8:44 AM
To: Wessels, Shelly LAB
The Globe and Mail reporter is Jessica Leeder and her phone numbers are 416-585-5894 (office) and 416-540-1608 (cell). Her e-mail address is [email protected] I had mentioned you to her last week and she sounded keen to talk to you.
Below is a story that appeared in the Owen Sound, Ont. Sun-Times newspaper earlier this month.
Firefighter's death raises concerns
Second death from ALS in city department has some questioning possible link to job
Local News - Tuesday, June 05, 2007 Updated @ 11:22:39 PM
Not long after Owen Sound firefighting Capt. Jim Blair retired, he found out he had Lou Gehrig’s disease. It claimed his life Friday at age 59.
Blair is the second Owen Sound firefighter to die from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Ronald Muzzell died in 1990 when he was 52.
“It’s definitely a concern . . . It definitely raised some flags. And nobody really knows what causes Lou Gehrig’s disease,” said Dave Cruickshank, president of the Owen Sound Professional Firefighters’ Association.
“We’ve looked to our professional organization, the Ontario Professional Firefighters’ Association, and posed a question to them: How can we have two people with ALS in a department of 30 people?”
Blair was a firefighter with the Owen Sound Fire Department for more than 30 years.
His wife Nancy Blair said her husband loved being a firefighter and he passed his passion for emergency services to his son, who is an OPP detective, and daughter, who is a paramedic.
Blair retired in 2003. When his neurodegenerative disease, also called ALS, was diagnosed in 2005, Blair accepted it quietly.
“He didn’t complain once and he went on with his life,” his wife said Monday.
She said her husband came across as stern, but really he was soft-hearted. “He would do anything for anybody. He’s kind and he is the most courageous man I have ever known.”
Blair was a member of the Canadian Forces reserves and rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel with the Grey and Simcoe Foresters in 1993.
Blair also volunteered with the Scenic City Order of Good Cheer, was on the Grey Granite Club board of directors and was involved with the campaign to raise $350,000 to put retractable seats in the OSCVI auditorium.
Former Owen Sound fire chief Gord Woods said Blair was too young to die.
He did his job well, but Woods wonders whether firefighting contributed to his illness.
Cruickshank said Blair was well-liked and respected. “He fell into a leadership role right from the get-go.”
The Ontario government announced last month a proposal to amend the Workplace Health and Safety Act that would allow the government to designate eight cancers and heart injuries which happen within 24 hours of fighting a fire which would be presumed to have been caused by firefighting. Workers’ compensation coverage would be automatic in those cases if criteria were met.
Lou Gehrig’s disease is not on the list.
Blair leaves his wife and their children, Maureen Blair and Jamie Blair Jr. and his wife Tracy and two grandchildren, Keegan and Chris.
A firefighter honour guard was to greet Blair’s visitors Monday night at the Breckenridge-Ashcroft Funeral Home. The funeral service was to take place at 11 a.m. today. A fire truck will lead the procession from the funeral home to St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Thanks Shelly. I've called Jessica today and left a message on her voicemail. AL.
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