GOODYEAR, AZ — Research shows firefighters across the country are being diagnosed with cancer at an alarming rate, including in Arizona.
In 2019, Goodyear firefighter Austin Peck lost his battle with occupational cancer. It's a hardship firefighter Gilbert Aguirre, who has leukemia, has seen firsthand.
"We've had three members of our fire department that have been diagnosed with cancer and unfortunately one of them passed away, Austin, who was one of my best friends," Aguirre said.
The troubling trend has forced the department to change the way it operates. So, when plans were underway to build a new fire station, he said he knew he needed to give some input.
After years of design work and construction, Goodyear Fire Station #186 on Willis Road just east of Rainbow Valley Road is now in service.
"We are one of the very first cities, not only in Arizona, but across the nation that is incorporating these new designs," said Fire Captain Manny Cordova.
Cordova gave ABC15 a tour of the station, showing how each element serves a purpose. There is a hose hooked up to the firetruck, so when you turn it on you aren't breathing in the fumes.
There are also doors that automatically close with an air pressure system to push out any toxins and high-powered washing machines for dirty gear. Cordova said he hopes this technology will only get greater and more departments start to use it. He said these changes are paramount when it comes to saving lives.
"We're losing brothers and sisters across the country," Cordova said.
"It made me feel good just knowing that we're working in the right direction, we're going in the right direction to try to eliminate cancer," Aguirre said.