MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- They are the heroes we call when we need help. But firefighters need some help of their own.
They are getting cancer at a high rate because of the elements they are exposed to.
"We have a 9% higher chance than the general public of getting cancer, and we have a 14% greater risk of dying of those cancers," said Mark Munson, a captain with St. Paul Fire Department.
Two years ago, a fellow St. Paul firefighter died from cancer he got on the job, and earlier this month, an Albert Lea firefighter died of cancer also linked to on the job exposure.
Munson says it's become too common.
"The names are just coming," he said.
After years of battling blazes, Monson is now fighting to keep his peers alive.
Munson got a big idea from the uniform hoods firefighters use that cover the head and neck. Munson felt like there were other parts of their body that needed protection, specifically high exposure areas like underarms and groin.
"I thought, why aren't we protecting those areas?" he said.
So he founded Under Guardian. The company makes microfiber pieces for firefighters to wear under their gear that blocks almost all contaminants.
Monson explained: "About a tenth of the size of a flake of talcolm powder will be blocked before it gets to our bodies can absorb it."
It's just another way, he's trying to protect and serve.
"I really have one simple goal – to reduce firefighter cancer, that's it," he said.
Monson is selling the product on the Under Guardian website. He says the biggest challenge is getting fire departments to invest in the product, because it's costly to make, about $240 for a set of gear.
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