Forty years ago, the professional fire fighters of Saskatchewan created a Burn Fund to improve medical care for burn victims, reduce the financial hardship when treatment outside the province is necessary, and support education for healthcare providers. Since then, the Saskatchewan Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund has raised more than $6 million, of which $1 million has been invested in the care and comfort of burn victims and their families at Royal University Hospital.
In gratitude, the Saskatchewan Professional Fire Fighters Association (SPFFA) was honoured on National Philanthropy Day in November 2014 in Saskatoon. “We nominated the SPFFA for the National Philanthropy Day Award to recognize their dedication and commitment to burn victims at RUH and across the province,” says Arla Gustafson, CEO of RUH Foundation. “They have made a real difference in so many lives.”
Over the years, the SPFFA has raised funds through various ventures, but none are as popular and successful as the annual Burn Fund Calendar featuring the fire fighters themselves. The “models” are chosen at a fundraising event in May. “We always have more fire fighters competing for the calendar than there are months in the year,” says Burn Fund Co-chair John Dishko, a member of the Saskatoon Fire Department. “The guys have fun at the competition and we raise even more money for the Burn Fund.”
The Burn Fund invested in the Burn Unit at RUH (the first one in Saskatchewan), the Burn Unit at Regina General Hospital, the Hyperbaric Unit at Moose Jaw Union Hospital, the Children’s Burn Camp, and awareness programs that reduce the incidence of fires and the severity of injuries. As well, ongoing survivor support provides funds for individual burn victims on their long and painful journeys of recovery.
“As fire fighters, we see first hand the physical and emotional trauma faced by burn victims and their families. And those don’t stop when the fire is out. The scars can last a lifetime,” says Dishko. “We are very honoured to be nominated by RUH Foundation for this award, but that’s not why we do it. We do it for the burn victims and their families who face a long road ahead.”