Ole Hedstrom and George Richards with the Montana State Professional Firefighters Association stopped by our radio studios Monday morning to give us the latest news from the state capitol in Helena as the 2023 Legislative Session is underway.

Both are active firefighters still on duty, but also taking time out of their day/night jobs to make sure their fellow firefighters are getting representation back in Helena.

Richards is the current president of the association, while Hedstrom is part of a 5-man legislative team.

Ole Hedstrom: We've had some great support across both sides of the aisle. Two bills we're bringing are Senate Bill 289, which is a tuition waiver for line of duty death for police and firefighters- and that's being brought by the good Senator Chris Freidel (R-Billings) from right here in Billings. Another one we're working right now is Senate Bill 310, which is a presumptive illness for cancer inclusion bill to include testicular and cervical cancer, and that's being brought by our good friend Jason Small (R-Busby).

The Montana State Professional Firefighters Association has about 843 members across the state. As Hedstrom and Richards were updating us on their latest legislative efforts to ensure that their fellow firefighters are being covered when it comes to illnesses that may be acquired due to toxic exposure on the job- they couldn't help but think of a brother who carried on that fight for over a decade himself.

Richards noted that "today marks the fourth year anniversary of a firefighter who was killed in the line of duty out of Great Falls from cancer exposure on the job."

Phil Drake and Kristen Inbody had the story four years ago for The Great Falls Tribune:

'Carry on, Warrior': Great Falls firefighter Jason Baker dies

Drake and Inbody wrote that Baker was "celebrated as a true-blue Montana warrior" who "was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer 16 years into his career with Great Falls Fire Rescue."

The report added this:

Baker worked for more than a decade to help firefighters statewide achieve the presumptive lung-disease coverage so generations of first responders tagged with lung disease would have better odds at living a normal life.


Click below to listen to our conversation with the firefighters starting about halfway through the below podcast:

LOOK: 20 of the strangest natural phenomena in America

From fire rainbows to bioluminescent bays, America is home to some truly bizarre natural phenomena. See Stacker's list of 20 of the strangest natural phenomena in the U.S.



More From Montana Talks