Firefighters across Ohio are mourning the death of Russell Brode, the former president of Akron’s firefighter union, who they said died Saturday from what’s referred to as “occupational cancer,” or cancer he acquired through fighting fires.
Brode, 54, spent years pushing for better care and training for Ohio firefighters facing the same risk from inhaling cancer-causing toxins released by smoke and other chemicals. The International Association of Firefighters has said cancer is the leading cause of death among firefighters.
“In the last month, I’ve been to three funerals of recently retired firefighters who’ve died of cancer way too young,” Brode told WKYC in 2015 when the Cleveland television station was reporting on cancer risks among firefighters.
Two years later, Ohio passed a law allowing firefighters and former firefighters with occupational cancer to file claims for workers’ compensation. The law also provided funding to train firefighters on how to prevent exposure to cancer-causing toxins.