California has had a record wildfire year, with millions of acres throughout the state burned, structures damaged, and, worst of all, lives lost.
L.A. County Fire Department Air Operations Crew Chief Mike Dubron weighed in on the impact of California's wildfires in 2020. “This year has been particularly hard for firefighters, with the firefighters that have been lost on the various fires throughout the state of California,” he said. “It's difficult in a sense that we really don’t have time to grieve because we're still doing the job.”
LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez profiles Dubron, who opens up about his work with the LACoFD Air Operations, which includes aerial firefighting and making difficult, often life-saving, air rescues. He tells Fernandez that the pandemic has created a new obstacle for firefighters nationwide.
“COVID-19 has brought a unique challenge to the fire service across the country,” he said. “We have to take those extra precautions not only with the people we interface in the public and the people we serve, but also amongst ourselves.”
In 2003, Dubron was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer at age 39 and was given one to three years to live. Dubron not only beat cancer but came back from it determined to use his life-leveling experience for the greater good. After a nine-month absence for his health battle, he returned to the department and established the Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN).
"After my surgery and recovery and remission, I wanted to give back," he said. "I felt compelled. FCSN is a global nonprofit that provides assistance, comfort, cancer awareness, and education to firefighters — with a long-term goal to greatly minimize the multiple toxic exposures that massively increase firefighters' risk of being diagnosed with cancer."
Thanks to Dubron’s founding of FCSN, firehouses across the globe are adopting new firefighting practices to minimize life-threatening toxic exposures while in the line of duty.
New episodes of LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez premiere Mondays at 9 p.m. on Spectrum News 1.