Firefighters are among the professionals who are most at risk for malignant mesothelioma, so it would be reasonable to expect their management to take extra precautions when it comes to safety and protecting them from asbestos. Unfortunately, recent news investigations have revealed that the exact opposite has been true of the San Diego Fire Department for at least the last 15 years: NBC7 in San Diego recently uncovered documentation showing that despite the department having long been aware that its training facility was contaminated with asbestos, it continued to use it, continually subjecting first responders to dangerous levels of asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma advocates and firefighters alike have expressed shock and fury at the department’s inactions over the years, and their apparent lack of concern for first responders’ long-term health. San Diego Fire Captain Jesse Conner, president of the local firefighters’ union said, “When we heard that there was potential long-term asbestos exposure, we were furious. One of the repeated mistakes over the years was that the fire department never fully addressed the problem. They continued to put interim solutions in place.”
The risk of mesothelioma is heightened with increased inhalation of asbestos fibers, something that many say was likely after trainees worked amid asbestos-containing tiles, adhesives and insulation found in the structures found at the site of the old Naval Training Center which were being used by the fire department. Since the revelations about the dangers posed by the site, pressure from the union and the department’s Cancer Awareness Prevention Program Manager led to the site being shut down last summer, but prior to that happening instructor Kevin Pendleton resigned his training duties in order to make clear his objection and “growing concerns about the presence of asbestos and the condition of our training facility,” and the previous manager of the Cancer Awareness Prevention Program wrote a memo indicating that “employee concerns about environmental safety at NTC were not addressed properly,” and that the department had been “aware of the asbestos hazards at the NTC site since at least 2002.”
If you were exposed to asbestos and it resulted in illness, you need legal guidance. For information, contact our office today to learn more. We can be reached at 1-800-966-2244.