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Phoenix Fire signs on for potentially life-saving cancer screenings

(Phoenix Fire Department Photo)

PHOENIX – Starting in June, Phoenix firefighters will begin annual cancer screenings to help track and research job-related cancer.

The results will be added to a Centers for Disease Control national registry of firefighter blood scans.

Capt. Rob McDade called this an important step for the profession.

“We’ve got to keep fighting fires because that’s our job and fires are going to happen but we need to do it smarter,” McDade said.

He said the department has worked to change old, lax practices.

“We’d fight a car fire and wouldn’t put our masks on. That’s the most toxic stuff. Metals, the plastics, the rubbers.”

McDade said the screenings will help break down best and worst practices.

“What the hope is, is that the way we’re changing our practices … is that 20 years from now the firefighters that are starting today aren’t getting the cancer that our generation is getting now,” McDade said.

The department has lost two firefighters to occupational cancer this year.

Rick Telles died in January and Brian Beck Jr. died Sunday.

At Beck’s funeral Thursday, Steve Beuerlein, president of the United Phoenix Firefighter Association, said the organization was committed to eradicating occupational cancer.

“Brian Jr.’s ultimate sacrifice and the lessons we learn from [it] will save the lives of future firefighters,” Beuerlein.

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