Archive for September 10th, 2015

Cancer message for firefighters (more)

Excerpts from the

Mark Rine no longer runs into burning buildings or performs emergency medical procedures.

Instead, the Columbus firefighter spends his days standing in front of other firefighters and warning them about a danger he knew nothing about until Sept. 11, 2012. That was the day a doctor told him he had melanoma. He had asked a dermatologist to look at a spot on his back. The doctor said it was four other spots that concerned him.

Two weeks later, Rine underwent his first surgery. Another followed. But by that point, the cancer had spread, and he was told it could not be stopped.

“Let my example be your reason for change,” Rine, 33, of Granville said last week while addressing a dozen Violet Township firefighters.

Rine used to work at Station 8 on the Near East Side. Because of the cancer, he can no longer do the job. He tried going back to the station after surgery and while on chemotherapy, but the work aggravated the tumor at the base of his spine, which affected his mobility.

“Out of all the things that still to this day get me emotional to talk about, that would draw tears, it’s not being at Station 8 doing my job. I miss it,” he said.

When he learned he had cancer, he had no idea that firefighters are at greater risk than others. While surfing the internet one sleepless night, he stumbled upon a 2006 study by researchers at the University of Cincinnati that found that firefighters had a higher rate of cancers, including melanomas.

“I was like, ‘Wow. Really? How do I not know this?’??” Rine said.

Grace LeMasters, an epidemiologist and one of the lead researchers on the study, said firefighters face an increased risk for at least 10 cancers. She said firefighters should wear their masks, even during cleanup after a fire. And when they return to the station, they should scrub down to make sure they don’t leave anything on their skin. The same goes for their gear, LeMasters said.

“They are exposed to a soup of cancer-causing agents,” including soot, diesel exhaust, benzene and formaldehyde, LeMasters said.

Rine said he spreads the word because too many firefighters haven’t heard the message. During his presentation, he lists cancers that can affect firefighters as well as several safety procedures that could help lower the risk. He estimates that he has made 100 presentations to about 1,000 firefighters across the state in the past six months.

“You know who you are dealing with, and it’s not an easy audience,” Rine said.

Although he can’t fight fires, he is not on leave. Rine is executive assistant to the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 67 in Columbus. The job allows him to travel to various departments.

Mike Little, chief of the Violet Township Fire Department, said he is working to get a second set of gear for firefighters and is pushing them to scrub themselves and their equipment after working at fire scenes.

“Cancer is an epidemic in the fire service, and we don’t want to be a part of it,” Little said.

Rine also wants the state to recognize that some cancers are caused by the job, which would allow firefighters to collect workers’ compensation and be eligible for pension funds. A bill has been introduced in the Ohio House to address the issue.

“My five children and my wife will have to go on,” Rine said. “That’s who this bill is for.”

Mark Rine said he simply wants firefighters to have a chance to retire. “I don’t want them to have to do what I do,” he said.

More articles relating to cancer in the fire service can be viewed by clicking HERE

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Funeral for Fox Lake Police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz (more)

Video by Asher Heimermann of the funeral procession for  Fox Lake Police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz

Asher Heimermann

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