Cancer is the leading cause of death for firefighters, Solon fundraiser helps to buy protective gear

Facing danger and running towards it is just a day on the job for firefighters, but it's a danger they can't see that is killing them. 

Cancer is now the leading cause of death for firefighters everywhere. It's something News 5 fought for Ohio to recognize. 5 on Your Side Investigator Sarah Buduson's exclusive investigation with late firefighter Mike Palumbo led up to a new law passed that not only recognizes the link between cancer and the job but also allows firefighters diagnosed with cancer to receive additional benefits. 

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Now, the focus has shifted to prevention and a piece of equipment that could help. 

Steve Nash with the Solon Fire Department introduced News 5 to an old piece of equipment with a new form of protection and a local business that's helping the department raise money to buy it.

Nash said it all changed for him when the chart at his six-month check-up with his dermatologist looked different than in the past.

"A lot of the areas where he's either had to do an incision or freeze something made an outline, right along here and on the jawline," he said. "I didn't think too much of it until we started looking at the reports and studies coming out, and it's one of the areas we've been absorbing a lot of the toxins."

It's also the area making direct contact with a protective bones hood. 

"What we are finding out is it's absorbing the toxins, the soot," Nash explained. "To a detriment to us, it absorbs that nasty stuff and deposits it in our skin."

As part of new preventative measures, the department is looking at buying new hoods that protect the wearer from fire and carcinogenic particles. 

"They're about $90 a piece," he said. 

Burntwood Tavern reached out to the department and asked how it could help.

Solon Fire and Burntwood Tavern are now teaming up for a fundraiser to raise money to buy the department's 60-member squad a new piece of gear that will protect the people protecting us. 

"We don't get too many opportunities to have a good time with folks here, usually we are seeing them on their worst day, so this should be fun," Nash said. 

The fundraiser, hosted by Burntwood Tavern, is active online and an event is planned for September 7th. For more information, click here.

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