HOUSTON -- A group of Houston firefighters are looking to make a run-down fire station building an oasis for colleagues battling cancer.
Cancer rates among firefighters are as much as 25 times the general public because they are exposed to all sorts of toxic substances scene after scene.
The Station 27 building’s years as a house for Houston’s bravest are long past. The old brick building’s fixtures are rusted and its windows are busted.
The Society of Houston Latino Firefighters has viewed the building as a unseen gem for more than five years.
“It is hard to speak of because when we speak of this we speak from the heart,” said Lorenzo Diaz, the group’s president, who is also battling cancer. “Much later in their career, they find out they have cancer. They pass away after they retire.”
The group sees the building as the start of a national trend, the “Firefighter House.” Think of it as a Ronald McDonald House for firefighters and their families, a safe place for firefighters in the fight of their lives, the fight against cancer.
Firefighters from all over the country come to the Texas Medical Center for cancer care and while insurance may cover treatment, it doesn’t cover the other massive expenses associated with long-term cancer care.
“It will provide them a place to stay free of charge and this will give them a home away from home,” Diaz said.
Lorenzo Abundiz runs the national charity Code Three for a cure.
“I hope it is the catalyst for more Firefighter Houses around the country,” he said.
Ironically it is a cancer concern that has been holding the project back, asbestos must be removed from the building that opened in 1941.
Cherry Demolition has stepped up to help with the next step.
When finished in about 14 months the Firefighter House will have three furnished apartments and room for expansion.
Click here for more information about the project and to make donations.