Fire Chief Tim Butler

Fire Chief Tim Butler
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Today I had the distinct pleasure to travel to Minneapolis Fire Station #27 for a joint press conference with Minneapolis Fire and the American Lung Association. The event: announcing the winner of the 2nd annual “Faces of Influenza” Healthy Challenge. The Healthy Challenge is a contest between the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Firefighters, and the department having the most members who get immunizations against the influenza virus wins the contest.

As a Firefighter and Fire Chief, I love to win, and I especially love winning against admirable opponents like the Minneapolis Fire Department. Of course, this is a friendly competition designed to help educate and encourage the public to receive influenza immunizations. Minneapolis won last year’s contest, and I had high hopes that Saint Paul would prevail in 2010. Well........victory was not to be for us this year either. In spite of having nearly 300 of our members immunized, Minneapolis won – they had 4 more members immunized than we did. We lost by 4 people!! (Heavy sigh). Well, even though Saint Paul “lost,” we all won in the end – getting protection against a serious illness that can kill even the healthiest people.

In addition to Minneapolis Fire Chief Alex Jackson and each department’s EMS Chiefs (Matt Simpson for Saint Paul and Charlotte Holt for Minneapolis), I joined Mrs. Linda DeLude for today’s press conference. Linda is the wife of deceased Minneapolis Firefighter Barry DeLude. Barry died from complications of influenza in 2007. Like many healthy people, Barry decided not to get immunized against influenza. It was sobering to hear Linda talk about Barry’s illness and his life that was cut short by the disease. If a strong, vibrant Firefighter could be cut down in his prime by the flu, then all of us are at risk. Linda’s mission is to encourage EVERYONE to get immunized against influenza. Barry served on Minneapolis Fire for over 20 years, and served most recently on Ladder #5. Station #27 (current home to Ladder 5) has a memorial on their watch office wall honoring Barry and displaying the Healthy Challenge awards from both 2009 and 2010.

If you haven’t gotten your influenza immunization yet, I highly encourage you to do so. The vaccination is a simple shot in the arm, and is appropriate for everyone 6 months old and older. If you have any questions regarding the flu or the vaccination, visit the American Lung Association’s Influenza Prevention website for more information:

Firefighters are often called to care for injured or sick citizens. My department relies on annual influenza immunizations as our first line of defense against contracting the flu virus. Barry DeLude’s story reminds all of us how devastating the flu can be. Make the immunization YOUR first line of defense as well, and get your flu shot today!

The flu season runs from autumn to late winter/early spring, so if you haven’t received your shot yet, there is still plenty of time and plenty of vaccine available. Take this important step for to protect yourself and your family - get your shot!

Take care and stay warm on this blustery October night!