Upon being diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago related to a lengthy career in firefighting, Homer Fire Chief Mahlon Irish chose not to bow out and quit, but rather to educate his fellow comrades on the risks of their profession they previously weren’t considering.
Research shows firefighters are being diagnosed with cancer at a nine percent higher rate than the general public, while experiencing cancer-related deaths at a 14 percent higher rate.
In an attempt to curb these trends, state fire officials last week released a new basic protocol for decontaminating turnout gear following a response call, which research shows can reduce the potential of cancer in the long-term by up to 85%.
When fire gear isn’t decontaminated properly, harmful chemicals from smoke can be unintentionally brought back to firehouses and homes, which cross-contaminates coworkers and family members without detection.
Thankfully, our local departments have been ahead of the game in employing the state’s protocol and more in recent years.
Their recent effort is largely due to Chief Irish and an educational course he created himself which serves to inform firefighters into the future about the simple ways they can lower the risk of getting themselves or their families sick.
Both he and Cortland City Fire Chief Wayne Friedman joined Vinnie Bellardini in the studio for a conversation delving deeper into the topic.
Press play below to listen to the interview: