Teen Raises Money to Protect Firefighters from Job-Related Cancers

A US forestry firefighter cools a burning modular home to protect a nearby structure in Deerhorn Valley as the Harris Fire continues growing beyond 70,000 acres on October 24, 2007 near Jamul, California. Southern California is being ravaged by numerous record wildfires as Santa Ana Wind conditions push them into …
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The daughter of a Kansas City firefighter who succumbed to cancer is working to provide life-saving equipment to firefighters across America so they have less of a chance of contracting cancer themselves.

Colleen Byrne, who lost her father to cancer in 2017, knew from a young age that the cancer he developed later on in life was caused by the carcinogens sitting inside his gear.

“The carcinogens sit in their gear and soak into their skin while they are wearing it, even if they are not in a fire,” she told KMBC.

But instead of standing idly, Byrne decided to step into action by creating the Byrne Out Cancer Foundation in her father’s honor. She has already organized several events, such as a silent auction and a pickleball tournament, to help fundraise for the Excelsior Springs Fire Department.

The funds were raised for them to purchase a special washing machine called an extractor, which is used to decontaminate fire gear of cancer-causing carcinogens.

“They are our heroes, and they walk into buildings in a blaze of fire to save us,” she said, “and I wanted to give back and do something to save them.”

Colleen’s mother, Stacy, said her father would be proud of what she has accomplished.

“She is amazing. She is very strong willed like he was, so anything that she puts her mind to she is going to carry through with,” said Byrne, “and I think that comes from him.”

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