By Reg Chapman

ROSEVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) — Thanks to a generous couple in Roseville, the local fire department has a new life-saving tool.

Hugh and Julie Thibodeaux are long-time supporters of both fire and police in Roseville, and their financial donation made it possible for the department to build an infrared sauna.

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New research shows sweating can help release dangerous toxins they build up in their bodies from fighting fires.

“Firefighters are about two-and-a-half times more likely to get just about every type of cancer you can get versus the general public,” said Dave Brosnahan.

Exposure to toxins and contaminants when fighting fire is a big factor in hundreds of firefighters across the country being diagnosed with cancer.

“When we go inside a fire, every five degrees our skin temperature increases, the possibility for absorption increases 400 percent,” Brosnahan said.

Roseville Assistant Fire Chief Dave Brosnahan says his department is thankful two members of the community donated a state of the art infrared sauna to help mitigate the effects of exposure to toxins.

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“Both the Thibodeaux’s have been fantastic. For us, it means a lot for us and I think it means a lot to the firefighters for them to see someone from our community that cares about how we are in our health and us as people,” said Brosnahan.

Hugh and Julie Thibodeaux are long-time supporters of both fire and police in Roseville.

They were recognized on Tuesday for their generous donation.

“With both of the bikes that are in there and the infrared, we’re trying to increase the core temperature so by increasing the core temperature it causes them to sweat and sweat out some of those toxins,” Brosnahan said.

The sauna is one part of Roseville’s cancer prevention program that includes expanded medical exams and a special washer and dryer that extracts the toxins from their gear.

“They’ll get the gear they used in the fire in our gear washer and extractor, then they’ll come down here and utilize the sauna for 15 minutes,” said Brosnahan.

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This sauna is helping with cancer prevention, a tool Roseville hopes will make for long careers and long retirements.

Reg Chapman