Ohio lieutenant who fought for health protections dies from occupational cancer

Akron Fire Lt. Russell Brode, former president of IAFF Local 330, is remembered as an advocate for firefighter safety


Amanda Garrett
Akron Beacon Journal

AKRON, Ohio — Firefighters across Ohio are mourning the death of Russell Brode, the former president of Akron's firefighter union, who they said died Saturday from what's referred to as "occupational cancer," or cancer he acquired through fighting fires.

Brode, 54, spent years pushing for better care and training for Ohio firefighters facing the same risk from inhaling cancer-causing toxins released by smoke and other chemicals. The International Association of Firefighters has said cancer is the leading cause of death among firefighters.

"In the last month, I've been to three funerals of recently retired firefighters who've died of cancer way too young," Brode told WKYC in 2015 when the Cleveland television station was reporting on cancer risks among firefighters.

Two years later, Ohio passed a law allowing firefighters and former firefighters with occupational cancer to file claims for workers' compensation. The law also provided funding to train firefighters on how to prevent exposure to cancer-causing toxins.

"Whether it was at city hall, the statehouse, or the U.S. Capitol, he always fought for workers rights, to make the job of a fire fighter as safe as possible," Akron Fire Fighters Association Local 330 posted on its Facebook page Saturday when announcing Brode's death.

Brode served as an Akron firefighter for nearly 30 years and as president of the Local 330 from 2014 to 2018.

In 2019, he became chair of the Tri-County Regional Labor Council and was appointed the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters (OAPFF) state coordinator of governmental affairs last year.

"Russ had an easy-going disposition, but he was tenacious when it came to causes he cared about," Bill Quinn, secretary-treasurer of the OAPFF wrote on the organization's Facebook page.

"Russ knew that building relationships was core to the union movement but it didn't stop him from pushing back on those who stood against labor."

Funeral arrangements for Brode had not been announced Sunday morning.

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©2020 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

 

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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