NBC7 reported that thousands of San Diego firefighters were unknowingly exposed to asbestos and lead in their training facility. The city minimized the danger for more than 15 years, putting firefighters at San Diego’s Fire Academy at risk for life-threatening illnesses.
During training, firefighters continually crush asbestos-containing materials by crawling and dragging heavy tools across the facility’s floors. The asbestos tiles, adhesive and insulation then release fibers into the air, which trainees would breathe without any protection. According to CaseyGerry Partner Frederick Schenk, it’s the airborne asbestos that increases the risk of serious and sometimes deadly diseases. “That’s where the tremendous amount of fibers are created, become airborne, and are then breathed in,” he told NBC7.
In the video below, Fred explains to NBC7 San Diego (KNSD-TV) the danger of long-term exposure to airborne asbestos.
Documents show that the San Diego Fire Department Command was aware of the hazard since at least 2002. Asbestos was removed in just one building that year, while the rest were left with the hazardous materials in-tact. Records reveal that little, if anything, had subsequently been done. The SDFD finally closed the dangerous buildings in the summer of 2018. Still, thousands of recruits were exposed and could face painful and severe health effects.
“Mesothelioma is a bad cancer,” Fred explained. “It is a fatal disease. It is painful, and generally the time from exposure to death is typically 18 months.”
For the past 35 years, Fred has led CaseyGerry’s mesothelioma and asbestos practice team. Among his achievements includes the largest verdict ever in San Diego against an asbestos manufacturer. In the lawsuit against Owens Corning Fiberglass, Fred obtained a $2.4 million verdict in both economic and punitive damages. His client had developed terminal mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos insulation while serving aboard the U.S.S. Constellation. Owens Corning was aware of the product’s hazard and failed to remove it from the market or warn of the dangers.