'Lifeblood of our department': Calif. firefighter dies of occupational cancer at 45
Rancho Cucamonga Engineer Miguel Cervantes worked in the fire service for more than 20 years
By Jordan B. Darling
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. — Miguel Cervantes, a Rancho Cucamonga firefighter, has died from work-related lymphatic cancer, the city announced. He was 45.
Cervantes, who had more than 20 years of firefighting service, died Feb. 8, seven months after his diagnosis.
"Miguel was the lifeblood of our department," Rancho Cucamonga Fire Chief Mike McCliman wrote in an email Saturday, Feb. 11. "As a firefighter, he set the premier standard of service that all Rancho Cucamonga Fire District personnel strive to be as we continue serving our community following his passing."
Cervantes began his career as a volunteer firefighter with Riverside County Fire Department before moving to the Norco Fire Department as an apprentice firefighter in 2000. He started his career with the Rancho Cucamonga Fire Protection District in 2006 and was promoted to fire engineer in 2011.
Cervantes was diagnosed with work-related non-Hodgkin's follicular lymphoma in early July 2022, the city said.
"Firefighters diagnosed with cancer are presumed to have contacted it through the exposures inherent in their employment and, if they succumb to the disease, their death is treated as a line of duty death," Public Information Officer Nicole Dalton explained in an email Saturday.
A June 2022 study released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassified firefighting, giving it the highest hazard rating for cancer due to occupational exposure to toxic substances.
Firefighters are exposed to diesel exhaust, asbestos, chemicals, smoke, UV radiation, when responding to various types of fires, Dalton said. The exposure of these substances can cause malignant tumors and cancer, among other health hazards, she added.
Cervantes is survived by his wife of 17 years, Cylina, and their three children.
A celebration of Cervantes' life will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 17, at Abundant Living Family Church, 10900 Civic Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga.
Donations may be made to the Cervantes family through the Rancho Cucamonga Firefighters Benevolent Fund at rcfalocal2274.org/donate.
Flower arrangements may be sent to the church between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. Friday.
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