Feature photo of Jason and Jill Baker, courtesy of the Bakers.
Jason Baker, Firefighter Health and Safety Bill Warrior, Loses Life to Cancer
Prairie Populist mourns the loss of Great Falls City Firefighter Jason Baker, who lost his fight with Stage IV lung cancer Wednesday morning. Jason, 45 and the father of two, was a high-profile supporter of the Montana Firefighter Health and Safety bill, currently before the Montana Legislature. Last year, he and his wife, Jill, expressed to Prairie Populist their hope that the bill will pass in order to provide worker’s compensation for on-the-job diseases that afflict firefighters, who remain at great risk for developing lung problems by absorbing toxins while on the job.
Last week the bill passed, 35-15, in the Senate. Montana is one of only three states lacking such a protection bill for job-related illnesses, including cancer and cardiopulmonary diseases that can afflict firefighters.
Prairie Populist writer Andie Creel will post a more in-depth memorial to Jason next week. Meanwhile we want to share a few of the condolences for him and his family from around the state:
Montana State Firemen’s Association:
“It is with a heavy heart as we announce the passing of Brother Emeritus Jason Baker. He will be greatly missed. He has been a true Brother, Warrior, Mentor and Friend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, coworkers and friends.”
“It is with broken hearts that we announce today that Brother Jason Baker, from IAFF Local 8 has lost his battle with cancer caused by firefighting.
Brother Baker’s legacy of sheer determination and selfless devotion to his local, the IAFF, his brothers and sisters, and most of all his family, will be sorely missed.
Please keep his wife and two children in your hearts and minds in this difficult time.”
Gov. Steve Bullock:
“I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of Jason Baker. My thoughts are with his wife, his family and his colleagues. Jason and other firefighters across Montana put their lives in danger each and every day. We must in return give the respect and appreciation they and their families deserve. For every firefighter of today and who will one day be called to service, let’s get the Montana Firefighter Health and Safety bill to my desk for signature. We are all Baker’s Warriors.”
Stacey Anderson, Montana Primary Care Association deputy director and family friend:
“In honor of an amazing human who played the hell out the hand he was dealt. Dearest Jason, you are a treasure of a man and a gift to all who know you. The world is not the same tonight.”
Rep. Jessica Karjala, Billings, one of 61 Montana legislators who introduced Senate Bill 160, also known as the Montana Firefighter Health and Safety bill:
“Sincerest condolences, Jill Baker. Sending loving thoughts to you and your family.”
Sen. Carlie Boland, Great Falls, one of 61 Montana legislators who introduced Senate Bill 160, also known as the Montana Firefighter Health and Safety bill:
“Jason was at the forefront every session to try and get the proper medical coverage our fellow firefighters deserve. He knew if this bill passed it wouldn’t help him, but he still fought to get coverage for his fellow firefighters. I wished we could have been able to pass the bill before he left us. He loved being a firefighter, a husband and a father. He will be missed. Carry on, warrior!”
For more information:
Family spokeswoman Jill Van Son posted on Jason’s Caringbridge.org page on Thursday:
“Baker Warriors- we are in the process of establishing an account for the Baker Family, please be patient and once things are set up we will post here and on Baker Warrior Facebook site.”
Updates on Senate Bill 160:
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Click the links below to see Andie Creel’s other coverage of the Firefighter Health and Safety bill:
Article updated on February 22 at 8am.