Firefighter dies from job-related lung cancer - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Firefighter dies from job-related lung cancer

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Dean Tajima with his family. (Clark County Fire Department) Dean Tajima with his family. (Clark County Fire Department)
NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV (FOX5) -

Clark County Fire on Friday announced the death of a North Las Vegas firefighter from job-related lung cancer.

According to the North Las Vegas Fire Department, Dean Tajima, 38, lost his battle with cancer at 5:30 a.m. on Friday. 

"One of the nicest people I've ever met, he was a great dad... a good friend, musically inclined kind guy and just real fun to be around," said Bill Gardner, Tajima's friend and co-worker who went through the academy with him.

A dedicated firefighter with the NLVFD for 5 years, Tajima leaves behind his wife and two daughters, 6-year-old Kira and 9-month-old Olivia.

"Over the course of dean's employment, he was exposed to many different carcinogens just from being around fires," Gardner told FOX5.

At some point Tajima came into contact with asbestos and contracted mesothelioma, a hidden hazard every firefighter faces.

"Do the best we can to make sure we're wearing that respitory protection. Even if you wear it as often as they do, there's still exposures," said Jeff Buchanan, NLVFD's fire chief.

Buchanan said he also remembered Tajima from the academy, as a rookie who met challenges head on, a trait which lasted throughout his career.

"(He was a) very hard worker... always had a good attitude came to work every day and was a great team player," Buchanan said.

Now the department is honoring him by putting all their flags at half staff.

"I remember him looking at me getting his uniform put on him and saying, 'Man, it's really getting real now. We're getting hired here.' He was just real excited to be on the fire department," Gardner recalled when the two were first hired.

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