Firefighter dedicates time he has left to save colleagues from cancer

Mark Rine has made it his mission to save as many firefighters as possible before he dies from terminal stage 4 melanoma

By FireRescue1 Staff

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A firefighter is bringing his struggle with cancer into the limelight through an emotional five-part series.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Mark Rine, 36, has made it his mission to extinguish cancer in the fire service after being diagnosed with terminal stage 4 melanoma in September 2012. He was given about a 5 percent chance of surviving five years. Doctors told Rine that the cancerous spots covering his body and a tumor in his back were likely caused by his job.

Rine has traveled the state and country, imploring fellow firefighters to protect themselves from cancer by wearing their gear until they're done working at a fire scene and showering immediately afterward.

Additionally, the Dispatch conducted two statewide surveys among nearly 1,300 active Ohio firefighters and 360 fire chiefs. The surveys found that:

  • One in seven firefighters has been diagnosed with cancer
  • About 85 percent know at least one firefighter who has been diagnosed with cancer
  • Nearly 60 percent know at least one firefighter who has died from cancer
  • About half of firefighters believe cancer is their greatest occupational risk
  • Ninety-five percent of chiefs said they know cancer is the greatest occupational risk, but only half of their departments provide cancer-preventing training
  • Almost 30 percent of the firehouses don't have showers

If you missed the special segment, NBC Nightly News also featured an in-depth look at firefighter occupational cancer, delving into the epidemic by following a Boston firefighter battling blood cancer.


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