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Toxic chemicals causing cancer among today’s firefighters; here’s how York City firefighters are fighting back

YORK, Pa. --  Firefighters in York County getting a new tool to keep themselves safe but not from flames.

Nowadays, firefighters face an increased risk of cancer while saving lives and property.

Some departments are taking steps to keep their firefighters safe while surrounded by toxic fumes and substances.

York City Fire Rescue received a grant to buy special wipes which look and feel a lot like baby wipes, except the wipes remove dangerous chemicals which can cause cancer.

The fire chief says it's a simple little wipe going a long way to keep York City firefighters safer while on the job.

"What it does is allow our firefighters to recon right on the scene," said Chief David Michaels of York City Fire Rescue.

Chief Michaels passed them out to his crew for the first time Sunday afternoon.

Firefighters wiped off lingering toxins after battling a three story apartment fire.

"Even though you're wearing protective equipment, sometimes, you get that stuff on you, so it's good to wipe down, especially on the face and neck," explained Allen Fuentes, a firefighter.

Those dangerous chemicals are silently killing some of our nation's firefighters.

"We found that the number of cancer cases among firefighters have sky rocketed. It's because of the environment they're in," explained Michaels.

"They're using different materials now, way different from before. The stuff you have in your couches, isn't the same stuff they're putting in now. When you go in, it's very toxic," added Fuentes.

Firefighters haven't always been so proactive about cleaning.

"In the old days, you know, I'm talking like an old fire chief now, it was a badge of honor. Your gear was dirty. You looked cool. You walked around with dirty gear, and you didn't get cleaned up, but we're finding that's not the case anymore," explained Michaels.

Cancer recently killing one of York's finest,Tim Bair, a 65-year-old firefighter.

"We know the risk, I mean, we're seeing the numbers. We dealt with it firsthand," added Michaels.

It's a reminder to firefighters to take every safety measure while in the line of duty.

"We know the risk, I mean, we're seeing the numbers. We dealt with it firsthand," said Chief Michaels.

Chief Michaels said York City Fire Rescue will budget funds for the wipes.

He says it's a small cost in comparison to the cost of losing a fellow firefighter to cancer.