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Firefighter holds class on cancer risks

Posted at 6:11 PM, Mar 01, 2016

You may think firefighters' greatest fear is the flames they battle on calls.

You would be wrong.

Many will tell you cancer is the most dangerous threat facing firefighters today.

That is why approximately 163 firefighters gathered in Beachwood Tuesday morning for an occupational cancer prevention and awareness seminar.

The seminar was organized by Mark Palumbo. The Mayfield Heights fire captain's brother Mike, a fire captain in Beachwood, is currently battling glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Last month, an exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation revealed how numerous scientific studies have linked fighting fires to serious and deadly types of the disease.

Steve Westcott, the Ohio Director of the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, informed the attendees about the best practices to lower the threat of getting cancer.

Westcott battled and beat cancer not once, but twice. Since recovering, he has devoted his life to educating his fellow firefighters.

NewsChannel 5's investigation also revealed how Ohio failed to help firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer.

NewsChannel 5 investigators found Ohio is one of just 16 states without a law recognizing the link between fighting fires and cancer

 “I feel almost embarrassed as the state of Ohio,” said Ohio Senator Tom Patton (R-District 24.)

“There’s no other disabling injury that someone in Ohio will receive while working that we don’t take care of,” he said.

Patton attended Tuesday's seminar to talk to discuss progress on the bill.

Since NewsChannel 5's story aired, the Ohio Senate Insurance Committee held a meeting to hear testimony from proponents and opponents of the legislation. A vote has yet to be scheduled.