GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A Glendale firefighter is now fighting for his life in more than one way.

Capt. Kevin Thompson was diagnosed with a cancer related to the job earlier this year. But he was denied a workers’ compensation claim by the City of Glendale. It left him unsure of how he will pay for treatment once he can no longer work.

[WATCH: Glendale firefighter: They 'signed my death certificate']

“It’s the best job ever. I’ve loved every minute of it,” Thompson said.

Firefighting has been Thompson’s passion for 26 years.

But in April, he found himself fighting bronchitis and pneumonia.

“I didn’t get any better. I kept getting sicker. I became anemic, and then my kidneys started shutting down,” he said.

Thompson was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood.

“It’s a non-curable form of cancer. I will need chemotherapy for the rest of my life,” he said. “People die from this cancer on a regular basis.”

His doctors believe his exposure to diesel from the firetruck was one of the main causes.

Thompson gets chemotherapy treatment every week, sometimes costing up to $1,200 out of pocket even with his insurance.

[RELATED: New tool created to help protect firefighters from cancer]

But he was reassured when he found Arizona’s state law listed multiple myeloma as a “presumed occupational disease,” and filed a workers' compensation claim with the City of Glendale.

“Just the relief that came over me. Because I felt like I had help,” the fire captain said.

But then his world was flipped upside down again.

“My claim was denied,” he said. “And when she called to give me that news on the phone, I was upset, and I told her that she had just signed my death certificate.”

[RELATED: Phoenix Fire Dept. implementing procedural changes following cancer deaths]

He said the City’s third-party doctor cited no scientific link between multiple myeloma and firefighting.

“This will bankrupt my retirement and my savings trying to pay for treatment, that according to state law, should be covered,” he said. “The reason I took this job was to support my family. My kids are young. I want to see them grow up.”

Now, he’s hoping the City he’s still serving will return the favor and help him with the biggest battle of his life.

“It’s been the most rewarding career that I could ever hope for, and I’ve helped a lot of people, and that’s been awesome,” he said. “Now, I need help. I need help.”

The City of Glendale said due to HPPPA, they can’t comment on Thompson’s specific case. But the City said the its third-party administrator is solely in charge of the acceptance or denial process.

They said the City is not involved in that decision.

State Sen. Paul Boyer was a sponsor of the bill that made this type of cancer a presumed occupational disease. He issued Arizona’s Family this statement:

“Without the treatment Capt. Kevin Thompson needs - treatment the City of Glendale is obligated to pay for under state law - cancer very well may kill this career firefighter. As the Arizona Industrial Commission has made clear, absolutely nothing is preventing the City of Glendale from accepting Kevin’s cancer claim. Let us hope the City and its leaders will step up and accept this responsibility immediately. Not only is it the law, it is the right and moral thing to do.”

Thompson said he plans to formally appeal the denial.

On Friday, Mayor Jerry Weiers tweeted out a statement saying the city manager met with Thompson on Thursday.

"I am excited that we are already working together toward identifying several options and remain optimistic that a solution will be quickly identified," Weiers said in the statement.


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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(10) comments


I'm just thankful Mesa police officer Philip Brailsford was able to collect his disability pension considering the treatment to which he was subjected for doing his job.

Phillup Witgas

That's how they managed to profit what, 50 billion last year ? OK. Let me ask this question : where does making a nice profit end and pure unadulterated greed begin ? I would be one p**sed off firefighter....


Whether or not you personally believe diesel fuel is to blame for this man’s cancer, the doctor said it is the cause and the state law said it must be covered. Hopefully they get this error corrected sooner than later. This firefighter doesn’t need this stress on top of the stress from his illness. Pay the man!


Next thing you know people will be suing employers (including governments) every time they get sick. I wonder how much the doctor took under the table to blame "diesel fumes" which hundreds of people are exposed to MORE THAN THIS GUY and never get ill.


You are 100% correct!


Bit of scottish is he along with the tad Africano . Cha chualas a-riamh iomradh air crapo dìosail. Gu sònraichte nuair a tha connadh dìosail airson eqt trom gu math dandy, an do dh ’fheuch e ris na companaidhean tombaca airson an adhbhar? Hey, dè as aithne dhomh Eòs.[censored]


Never heard of diesel crapo . Especially when diesel fuelers for heavy eqt are fine n dandy , has he tried the tobacco companies for the cause ? Hey, what do I know Joe. Angikaze ngizwe ngodizili crapo. Ikakhulu uma udizili udizili we-est esindayo u-n dandy, uye wazama izinkampani zikagwayi ngembangela? Hhawu, yini engiyaziyo uJoe. [censored]


I think if I were a firefighter in the city of Glendale I may start looking for another job. Hmmm I wonder if all of them walked out the door at the same time if the tune would change.


I hope he gets the appeal because this is such a selfless job and demanding of his time away from his family to save others and now he needs to be saved. Terrible it even had to come to this.


Sorry .. we spent all that money to change the logo on the Glendale website ($68,000) and even more to start changing the color of the recycle trash cans to blue (since recycling is such a big thing these days ... darn ... we could have bought the ones from Surprise cheap).

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