LOUISA, VA (WWBT) - Firefighters in Louisa are asking for your help because one of their own is battling a life-threatening illness. Sean "Bulldog" Barrett works as a career firefighter in Louisa and is a volunteer firefighter in Kents Store in Fluvanna County. He is battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Now one of the chiefs say Barrett is part of a disturbing trend of firefighters who are dying from cancer that he believes is caused by the job.
"He's just a great guy, a great personality," says Kents Store Fire Chief Andrew Pullen about Barrett. "We're hopeful that he will pull through."
Funds are being raised right now to help Barrett, especially since his health took a sudden turn following a bone marrow transplant.
"He does have pneumonia in both lungs, so he still has a long road ahead of him, and we need all the prayers we can get."
Already, the department has lost one volunteer firefighter to the same disease. Victor Breeden passed away last month. He was only 28 years old. His locker remains untouched.
"Vic was so young," says chief Pullen. "He just started a family."
Chief Pullen says having two firefighters out of 50 battling cancer is actually a disturbing trend in departments across the country.
"One in three of us is going to get cancer," he said. "The carcinogens also get in the air and in our skin and our skin absorbs them, causing Hodgkin's Lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer, breast cancer, you name it."
The chief says workers compensation laws in Virginia don't do enough for first responders.
"They're so antiquated," says Pullen. "Everybody thinks we just get lung cancer, but the variety of cancers we get is huge. We need politicians who are willing to stand up to lobbyists and insurance companies."
In the meantime, these firefighters are protecting themselves by having a second set of gear so one is always clean, wearing cancer prevention hoods and removing diesel exhaust from the bay floor.
Click here to help Sean and his family.
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