A longtime Fort Worth firefighter has died of brain cancer linked to his job, according to a news release from the Fort Worth Fire Department.
David Greene, 56, died Monday, September 19.
“Once again our hearts are broken as the Fort Worth Fire Department has endured the loss of a firefighter to cancer,” Fire Chief Jim Davis said in the news release. “David was a valued member of our department and will be greatly missed.”
Greene was an engineer with the Fort Worth Fire Department, beginning his career in the early 90s. Over his 29-year career, he served at Station 14, Station 18, and Station 39, and he was trained as a member of the Technical Rescue Team, specializing in high-angle rescues.
His “death has been deemed a ‘Line of Duty Death’ and he will be honored accordingly in his memorial services,” said the news release.
Firefighters are far more likely to get certain types of cancer than the general public because of their exposure to hazardous smoke and chemicals.
It is called occupational cancer, and it is now the leading cause of firefighter deaths, with some 70% of firefighter deaths being attributed to occupational cancer, according to the International Association of Firefighters.
Fort Worth alone has seen three firefighters die of job-related cancer since 2019.
“Many more people are dying from occupational illness than from actual structural firefighting duty. You know, a flashover of a fire, a collapse of a building,” Chief Davis told NBC 5.
Davis said the department is doing everything possible to mitigate the risk of cancer in firefighters, including focusing on cleanliness, early detection, and physical fitness. The Fort Worth Fire Department has partnered with UT Southwestern to study and better understand the link between firefighting and cancer.
Additionally, the city has dedicated more than $1.2 million to preventing cancer for firefighters. The Fort Worth Fire Department has cancer focus groups and procedures to reduce firefighter’s exposure to carcinogens.
“It used to be the profession of firefighting was a dirty profession, and it was cool to be dirty, and it was expected,” Davis said. “Well, today we’re trying to treat it more like a hazardous materials event, and we’re trying to say, ‘Listen, clean is cool.’”
Greene’s friends and family will remember him for his easygoing personality.
“He’s somebody who would talk with anybody, and he didn’t know an enemy,” said Lt. David Childs, who had known Greene since they joined the department in the early 90s.
Childs worked with Greene at Station 39 on the city’s southwest side. One day in January, Childs noticed Greene getting confused, mixing up words, and even taking the wrong turn to calls.
“Suddenly, he just didn’t get it,” Childs said.
Greene saw a doctor and underwent a brain scan.
“…[I]t came back that he had a mass in his left frontal lobe, and it just blew my mind,” Childs said.
It was cancer. Greene underwent chemotherapy and surgery in the next few months, but the mass kept growing.
Eventually, there was nothing else the doctors could do.
“It’s a line-of-duty death. He got sick from doing what we do,” Childs added.
Greene is survived by his wife of 17 years, Gwyn.
Childs will deliver the eulogy at Greene’s funeral on Wednesday, September 28, at 10 a.m. at the Doxology Bible Church, 4805 Arborlawn Drive. The service is open to the public.
“He was just a good-hearted guy. I’m going to miss him,” Childs said.