Worcester FD enhancing education, equipment to protect firefighters

Worcester FD enhancing education, equipment to protect firefighters

WORCESTER, Mass. — One of the biggest fire departments in the state is trying something new to help protect firefighters from cancer.

Boston 25 News has done extensive reporting about how serious the problem is in the fire service in our series Boston's Bravest.  The grim reality is that too many in the fire service face an alarming risk of cancer from years of battling toxic fires.

“I've had several members that I've worked with that I've worked with that are actually on the job that died of cancer,” said Lt. Robert Judge of the Worcester Fire Department.

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Worcester already has state of the art equipment to help reduce the cancer risk. It now has mandatory rules on wearing masks when approaching a fire and not waiting until the last second. The department is also pushing for annual physicals for firefighters.

“If we find out information that's cutting edge…we try to present it as soon as possible for our members,” said Judge.

That comes from the organization, 15-40 Connection, based in Westborough, has been focusing on cancer education with the Worcester firefighters. The organization has highlighted the importance of early detection.

“So much of their job is about helping the community and making things better for others.  We want to make sure they know how to take care of themselves too,” said Helene Winn of 1540 Connection.

“It’ll make a difference as far as... we won't be dying from cancer.  Hopefully, it can be detected early and change the culture... and keep it from happening,” said Judge.

15-40 Connection is hoping to share its message with firefighters all across the state -- not just in Worcester.