More Than A Firefighter: A Cancer Survivor - Central County Fire & Rescue

More Than A Firefighter: A Cancer Survivor

I never thought I would get cancer from a job I love to do.


When CCFR firefighter Mark Bush was feeling rundown and tired, he never expected to learn that his white blood cell count had dropped to zero. The cause? Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

In the fire service, a cancer diagnosis is not a rare occurrence. A lifetime of consistent exposure to cancer-causing materials while fighting fires, assisting with car accidents and performing rescue operations has made cancer the top killer of active firefighters. 

Research from the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) found firefighters face increased rates of cancer diagnoses and cancer death compared to the general population. This is in addition to the increased risk of cardiac arrest, PTSD, suicide and, most recently, COVID-19.

When we hire our professional firefighters/paramedics/EMTs, they commit to a career that includes these risks, and we commit to providing them with a competitive salary, training opportunities, a safe work environment and the opportunity to retire with dignity. 

In 1991, our community voted to implement a firefighter retirement program. Since then, our community and fire district have grown, our firefighters have aged and the voter-approved retirement tax rate has decreased. 

Prop. R would provide the necessary resources to honor the retirement commitment made to the firefighters who keep us safe by providing adequate funding for CCFR’s retirement program, allowing our firefighters to retire with dignity. The additional investment for the owner of a $200,000 home would be $3.17 per month, about the cost of a gallon of milk.

Mark considers himself lucky to be alive and able to retire on his terms, having successfully beaten the cancer that takes many firefighters too soon.

The More Than A Firefighter video series is an informational effort by Central County Fire & Rescue to educate the community about the dangers facing our local professional firefighters and provide information about Proposition R to provide additional funding for the District’s retirement program.