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Former South Metro assistant fire chief dies of job-related cancer, remembered as ‘phenomenal leader’

Posted at 5:43 AM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 19:39:19-05

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A former assistant chief of operations with South Metro Fire Rescue passed away early Monday from a job-related cancer, the department announced.

Troy Jackson died Monday from adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer, South Metro Fire said. He was diagnosed in 2013.

He had a successful career with South Metro Fire — he was hired as a firefighter in 1990 and was promoted to engineer, lieutenant, captain, training bureau chief and then assistant chief of operations in 2016. He stepped down in August 2019 for health reasons.

South Metro Fire said he will be remembered as a “phenomenal leader and mentor” despite the challenges, both physical and emotional, that he faced.

“Chief Jackson’s legacy will live on as South Metro continues to make health and safety improvements to reduce the exposure that personnel have to cancer causing carcinogens during their daily responsibility of protecting the community,” South Metro Fire said.

Jackson also cared deeply for his family, which included his wife, daughter, son and daughter-in-law.

South Metro Fire facilities will fly their flags at half-staff Monday. A dignified honors procession for Jackson began shortly before 7:30 a.m. in Highlands Ranch.

Details of Jackson’s memorial service will be shared at a later time.

In a 2018 interview with Denver7, Jackson explained that the department was doing as much as they could to avoid exposure to carcinogens at fire scenes and after returning to the fire stations. He said they were treating fires as hazmat scenes and scrubbed off firefighting gear at the scene, cleaned their skin, covered seats, bagged up their coats and pants and more.

“It’s probably too late for a few of us, but anything we can do to make it easier on the next generation is huge for what we’re doing,” Jackson said in that interview.

Numerous studies show that firefighters face not only smoke but hazardous chemicals released from burning materials, and that this may increase their risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is currently working to track these statistics to learn more about the health risks, especially the higher risk of cancer, that come with firefighting.