Support Salvation Army Wildfire Relief

Studies reveal firefighters face unexpected threat

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There's no doubt that firefighters have a risky job.  But studies are now increasingly finding cancer is one of the biggest threats they face. One firefighter's wife is on a mission to help limit the risk.

"Every single day he goes to work, you worry," said Dawn Eddings.

Dawn Eddings has gotten used to those fears. Her husband Joseph is a Kansas City firefighter.

"But never ever have I thought my husband could die from cancer, cancer directly related from what he's been doing, what he's loved to do for 22 years," said Eddings.

More studies are finding links between the toxins firefighters are exposed to and a cancer diagnosis. It's a growing fight for KCFD.

"We can't stop the job, but there are simple things we can to do limit exposure," said Deputy Chief Jeff Johnson with the Kansas City Fire Department.

The department recently started a hood exchange, keeping clean masks on board every truck for easy swap outs. Just in the past week, it also added boxes of fire wipes, which are specially designed to help clear toxins off the body.

Keeping gear clean is another crucial step. But right now, only about a third of all Kansas City fire houses have machines designed to do that. They're called extractors, and are essentially commercial grade washing machines that help clear off chemical residues.

Dawn Eddings thinks it's unacceptable that not every station has an extractor. So she's raising money to help the department buy 21 more.

"We are all thankful for these heroes and we should help them if we can," said Eddings.

In just three days, she's raised almost enough money to buy one extractor. And the department is extremely grateful for the community's support.

"There's no doubt in my mind, the measures we're working on and in expanding the number of extractors, we can save lives in the job," said Deputy Chief Johnson.

Dawn Eddings is asking for donations of just $5 from each person who wants to give, and thinks the money to buy 21 more extractors can be raised in no time.

If you'd like to help, here's the link to do so:  https://www.gofundme.com/KCFDExtractors