LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) — Even when the flames are out, the battle rages on. Cancer is a very real threat facing many firefighters today - but it's not one that they have to face alone.

Here are ways that you can help your local departments:

1. Understand the threat. The first step in battling this epidemic is to learn more about it. Check out our Battle After the Blaze series to hear how cancer is affecting local firefighters and their families.

2. Join the push for change. You can contact your elected officials - at every level - to make sure that our firefighters get the protection they deserve. Today, departments need more research and funding for safety improvements. Plus, cancer is not considered a line of duty death on a federal level - so many families are denied those protections and benefits.

3. Donate. There is no gesture too small to express your gratitude to the men and women protecting Kentuckiana. La Petite Academy donated a case of baby wipes after learning that firefighters use them to cut down on cancer risks. Check with your local department to see what needs they may have.

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now.

Have a news tip? Email assign@whas11.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.