Right-to-Know

Firefighters & Cancer Unmasked: The Alarm

Columbus firefighter Mark Rine visits his dermatologist (Credit: Doral Chenoweth III).

COLUMBUS — No one warned Mark Rine that while he was saving others, he was killing himself.

The bad habits that would ensure the firefighter’s death sentence started with his very first fire in 2007.

Rine was supposed to help set up the ladder, but he ignored his orders, grabbed the hose and charged into the burning two-story brick house.

The rookie firefighter trudged through thick black smoke. In seconds, he was covered in soot. His head throbbed, but he moved on.

Once he and the other Columbus firefighters from Station 23 extinguished the flames, they slogged back between fallen lumber and smoking furniture to make sure fire wasn’t hiding behind the walls.

At this point, Rine was wearing only a T-shirt and his heavy-duty pants, exposing his skin to chemicals. Instead of putting his air mask back on, he followed the older guys’ lead and covered his nose with the hood that covers his head and part of his face.”

— Mark Wagner and Lucas Sullivan, Columbus Dispatch

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