Asheville Fire Department holds cancer awareness class for its firefighters

Asheville Fire Department held training Wednesday to raise cancer awareness for its 250 firefighters. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, but the International Association of Firefighters said for its members the biggest killer is cancer.

Asheville Fire Department held training Wednesday to raise awareness for its 250 firefighters. The department doesn't want a soot-covered face to be a badge of honor.

When firefighters return from a fire, the department requires them to wash their gear in an industrial cleaner. They want to get a second set of gear for everybody, because the cleaning process takes time.

"That gear is going to be out of service, which means the truck and crew are out of service. In order to prevent that, all we would do is get another set of gear for everybody. Having said that, that gear is very expensive," AFD's Kelley Klope said.

Klope said one set of gear costs $3,000. The department tries every year to get funding through grants.

The training was initiated by a recent cancer survivor in the department. Look for her story coming soon to News 13.

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