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LA County Firefighters Address Lawmakers Over Cell Tower Concerns

LOS ANGELES ( — L.A. County firefighters are voicing concern that cellphone towers are dangerously close to their fire stations, putting their workers at risk.

Many firefighters turned out to an L.A. Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to oppose an emergency communications effort that will improve public safety. They say their safety also has to be considered.

"The proximity of the towers and people living next to the towers is of grave concern," said David Gillotte, union president of Firefighters Local 1014. "It's a very complex issue how those radio issues affect people, all the way up to three miles away. There are health and safety issues that need to be discussed openly with the public."

Crews at the Commerce fire station have dinner right under a tower recently placed in the area. L.A. County Fire Capt. Lewis Currier tells CBS2/KCAL9 they worry about the exposure.

"We have 10 times the cancer rate of a lot of cancers, and leukemia, than the general population. We don't need more exposure," Currier said.

Agoura Hills resident Mollie Helfand came to Tuesday's meeting with her neighbors. She told CBS2/KCAL9's Amber Lee that LA-RICS, the agency tasked with installing the new towers, one night put up an 85-foot tower next to the fire station across from her home. She says her community didn't have the opportunity to weigh in on the tower's placement and now she's demanding answers.

"It was very disturbing and we're very concerned about the fact that LA-RICS is going around putting these towers up without any concern for the public's input, and for open space and for what the community feels," Helfand said.

During the meeting, the L.A. County Sheriff and Fire Chief stressed these towers are being installed to improve public safety in the event of a natural disaster.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell said, "LA-RICS will substantially improve public safety communications and is the most comprehensive undertaking of its kind."

"And the Los Angeles County Fire Department 100 percent supports LA-RICS," Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.

A county health official told Lee there's scientific evidence that shows radiation emitted from these cell phone towers does not cause cancer but says more studies need to be done.

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