N. Idaho community rallies around firefighter diagnosed with can - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

N. Idaho community rallies around firefighter diagnosed with cancer

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BONNERS FERRY, Idaho -

"My last time in a fire station was the day I retired from the city of Glendale so that was four years ago."

For close to 30 years, George Gemind's second home was the fire station.

His coworkers say he was always the one that would run into burning buildings first.

Gemind worked his way up the ladder to become a staff assistant for the city of Glendale, California Fire Department.

Four years ago, he took a much deserved retirement, ending up in Bonners Ferry.

But that's when all those years spent fighting flames caught up with him.

"I went to the doctor and they took an x-ray and they found a mass on my left lung, it was stage four lung cancer," Gemind said.

"As his friend I was taken back by it," Greg Godfrey said.

Godfrey, the Assistant Chief for Spokane County Fire District 8, worked with Gemind in Glendale.

Cancer, Godfrey says, is a threat firefighters both in Spokane and across the country are taking seriously.

As a group, firefighters have a 4% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population.

"I've been in this business for 41 years and we do things way differently now than what we did 41 years ago," Godfrey said.

Godfrey added firefighters in District 8 now have two sets of turnout gear, one that they can wear to fires while the other gets washed or stays hanging up to prevent wearing the same gear and breathing in deadly toxins.

"40 years ago we would just go into a fire after it was out without breathing apparatus to start the overhaul, we don't do that today," Godfrey said.

To help George; family, friends and fellow firefighters have created a YouCaring page to help George and his family pay for his treatment.

Despite it all, George looks back with no regrets.

"One of the best things I ever did was become a firefighter," Gemind says.

If you would like to help donate, click here https://www.youcaring.com/georgeandkathygemind-984843

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