San Diegans raising money to reduce cancer risks for firefighters

Goal is $50,000
Posted at 5:57 PM, May 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-01 20:57:18-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The images of our firefighters putting their lives on the line are striking; any time of the day or night and often just inches from raging flames, working to save us and our property.

They sometimes pay a price.

San Diego Fire-Rescue Capt. Dan King told reporters, "I just want to give perspective on what it's like to be a firefighter and to have cancer. Unfortunately, that's me. Two years ago today. I was in the middle of chemotherapy and radiation; pretty extensive treatment. For me, the treatment was very long and very painful."

His remarks were during a news conference about a fund-raiser to upgrade the equipment at Firehouse 21 in Pacific Beach Tuesday.

Imagine the health risks — every day.

"Firefighters can experience a lifetime of environmental exposures in a compressed period of time. It may happen at just one fire or, in many cases, chronic exposure over the course of a long career," Firefighter Kurtis Bennett, part of The Cancer Awareness and Prevention Program, said. 

To fight that the Pacific Beach Town Council wants to raise $50,000 to augment city funding.

San Diego City Council leader for District 2, Lorie Zapf, told the crowd, "I wish we had more revenue, more money so we could take care of all these equipment needs."

Firehouse 21 would benefit directly. The hope is that other stations will, too, down the road.

"Their wish list has a health and safety theme; driven by the fact that 65 percent of firefighters develop some form of cancer," Denise Friedman, co-chair of the fundraising event, said.

Capt. Rich Marcello showed 10News a specialized vacuum inside the station. He said it's a huge help to address immediate concerns.

"This extracts diesel particulates from the apparatus floor, which we're in quite a bit of the time and it hooks up to the exhaust system, extracts particles out and gets it out of our air," Marcello said.

One hope is that other neighborhoods will find ways to reduce cancer risks for their firefighters as well.