During his early days as a firefighter, Stan Morse sometimes battled flames without a breathing apparatus, choking down the smoke.
Over his 40-year career, he also cleaned the underside of firetrucks with a toxic chemical that has since been taken off the market. Morse also breathed in diesel engine fumes powerful enough to blacken the fire station walls.
Then, six months after he retired as a captain, he discovered a swollen lymph node on his neck. Not long after, he learned he had throat cancer.
Yet, when he submitted a claim for workers' compensation to cover his medical expenses, the state denied it.
The reason? He didn't identify a specific incident or exposure to a carcinogen that triggered his disease. Morse appealed and has a hearing on March 22.
Now, he's turning to Virginia Beach's leaders for help. On Feb. 5, the council directed City Manager Dave Hansen to examine his case to decide whether a special exception should be made.