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Is Buffalo firefighter's cancer death "work-related?"

Union claims fire captain's cancer was work-related to a 2008 toxic warehouse fire.
Posted at 6:28 PM, Sep 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-03 18:28:37-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo Fire Captain Patrick J. Stanton was laid to rest on August 31st with full honors after the firefighter lost his battle against a very aggressive form of brain cancer.

Captain Stanton leaves behind a wife and three sons.

The cancer was diagnosed in 2017 and Captain Stanton was forced to retire from the Buffalo Fire Department to deal with his medical situation.

However, Buffalo Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 282 is posting online that Captain Stanton, known as "PJ" to friends and family, died in the "line of duty."

Union officials declined to do on-camera interviews but the union confirmed to 7 Eyewitness News that it believes a toxic warehouse fire caused Captain Stanton's brain tumor.

The fire occurred in June 2008 when multiple alarms were called at the Leisure Living Pool Supplies warehouse at 1130 Niagara Street behind Rich Products.

Stanton was one of the first-responders on the scene who encountered thick, toxic smoke from a large supply of burning pool chemicals, including chlorine, that were stored inside.

The smoke was so intense that it was seen in Cheektowaga. It forced the closure of the I-190 for several hours, had residents ordered to shut windows and doors, and sent 12 Buffalo firefighters to the Erie County Medical Center to be treated for smoke and chemical inhalation.

"Any incident like this should be investigated," said Niagara District Councilmember David Rivera.

Rivera believes if a link can be found between the fire and Captain Stanton's cancer, that it should be considered a "line-of-duty" death so his family can get any extra benefits they may be entitled to receive.

In addition, the councilman believes that all firefighters on-scene for the massive 2008 warehouse fire should be checked to see if they suffered any long-term health effects.

"I think we should err on the side of caution," said Rivera.

A spokesperson for the City of Buffalo said the matter is being reviewed by department heads.

The link between cancer and firefighting is a national concern.

In 2018, President Trump signed into law the "Firefighter Cancer Registry Act" that requires the CDC to develop and maintain a voluntary registry of data so researchers can better study the link between firefighting and certain cancers.

The bill was co-authored by Congressman Chris Collins (R-Amherst).

New York State also passed a bill in 2018 that would provide cancer benefit coverage for volunteer firefighters.