KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Firefighters run into burning buildings. They know they will be called to respond to emergencies and other dangerous situations. It’s part of the job.
But there’s one danger a Kansas City firefighter and his family never saw coming.
On Tuesday, Capt. Jerry Bayton’s mother and daughter sat sharing stories together of their beloved son and brother.
“We’re grieving. We feel the loss and there’s a hole,” Jerry’s sister, Angela Langford, said.
Bayton died last Friday after a seven year battle with cancer. He had multiple myeloma. It’s a rare blood cancer that weakens the bones.
“Grueling. Especially the last few weeks. He was declining. But in all of this, he always had a good attitude,” Jerry’s mother, Marianne Bayton said.
Bayton’s cancer was likely caused by breathing in exhaust fumes from fire trucks for more than 20 years. Bayton was also around a lot of other toxins.
KCFD said unfortunately things like this are part of the job. But the Firefighter’s Union along with the department said KCFD is taking steps to protect firefighters.
They said almost every fire station now has high powered washing machines to take toxins out of gear. They’ve also implemented a fire hood replacement program.
Still, Bayton’s family said his cancer could’ve been caught earlier on.
“He said that he was holding a fire hose and he heard a pop, or he felt a pop in his chest,” Langford said.
Langford said that happened in March of 2012. Then they say he was misdiagnosed by a doctor.
It wasn’t until nearly three months later that Jerry and his family found out the truth. He had cancer. By that time, it had progressed to stage three and was likely starting to spread.
“I was really upset. Because I felt like if it would’ve been diagnosed sooner, it may have prolonged his life. We just wanted him here as long as possible,” Marianne Bayton said.
While an earlier prognosis may not have changed Jerry’s outcome. His family wishes they had more time with him.
His family said he didn’t want a funeral. So instead, they’ll have a memorial service at the Fireman’s Hall this Sunday to celebrate his life.