Because asbestos was used so extensively in 20th century construction, firefighters are among those at highest risk for malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. But beyond the risk posed by the carcinogen in burning buildings, recent reports point to the material being in place where the first responders live and train. In San Diego, the Air Pollution Control District pursued such a problem following a local news story that suggested the city had delayed fixing a known asbestos problem at the fire academy. Now the city is facing up to $80 million in fines over their failure to take protective action.
Mesothelioma Concerns Raised After Local News Report
The initial concerns over mesothelioma risks were raise in February 2019, when a local San Diego news station report uncovered internal documents pointing to a known asbestos problem that had gone unaddressed. As a result, thousands of firefighters had been exposed to both asbestos and lead in the floors, walls and ceilings of the fire academy, and so too were children who used the facility as a camp.
The asbestos-contaminated building was originally used by the Navy, but was converted to a training facility decades ago. The asbestos contamination was known at the time that the city purchased the buildings, yet no action was taken despite it being used in the training of over 1,000 firefighter trainees who are now at risk for malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
City Offered Settlement in Face of Potential $80 Million in Fines
In addition to the risk of malignant mesothelioma in San Diego firefighters caused by their lack of action, the city has been sent a settlement letter suggesting that fines could total more than $80 million if their lack of action was found to be reckless. The sites continue to be used for training, though areas that have not been through asbestos mitigation are not in use and have been locked.
Speaking of concerns about asbestos exposure and possible malignant mesothelioma diagnoses in the future, Jesse Conner, president of San Diego City Firefighters IAFF Local 145 said, “San Diego City Firefighters are terribly disappointed by the historic mishandling of asbestos at NTC as it unnecessarily exposed not only our personnel but many people outside our ranks to carcinogens. We’re committed to continuing to work with the city to notify those exposed, provide treatment for any of our members who may become sick as a result and implement protections to ensure something like this never happens again.” He added that “firefighters no longer train in the buildings that still contain asbestos.”
If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos and you fear malignant mesothelioma, you need reliable information. Contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.