The risk for firefighters is far greater than you might think. That risk may not be seen until years after the fire is out. The loss of one of their brothers to work-related cancer is just one of the reasons the Durham Fire Department is trying to change that.
“There are a lot more chemicals being given off during the fires that what we saw 15 or 20 years ago when things were more natural fibers so it’s just a lot dirtier fire that’s become a leading exposure to a lot more chemicals that we never saw in the past,” said Battalion Chief Wayne Cheek.
It also means that sometimes they fight to stay safe while fighting a fire later becomes a fight to stay alive. Firefighter Corey Miller has watched that happen.
“A lot of my friends have been affected with it and just to see the progression of the disease from when they initially get diagnosed to where they’re treated going through the treatment until they die,” he said.