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Late Tucson firefighter, Tom Quesnel, paved way for cancer prevention

Tom Quesnel
Posted at 5:56 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 20:16:43-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Inside her Tucson home, Janet Quesnel, is enjoying retirement. She spends time with her two sons and five grandchildren, but not a day goes by the she doesn't think about her late husband, Tom.

"He got very ill in the spring of 2012. It took a couple of months to really get it pinpointed as to what he had going on. Once they pinpointed it, it was leukemia," said Quesnel.

Tom battled cancer for two years. He took a step back from work and a job that he very much loved to do.

"He had thought about being a firefighter all along. He thought that would be what he wanted to do from there on out," said Quesnel.

Tom worked his way up in the ranks and eventually became a Fire Cause Investigator. Even after his diagnosis, he never lost sight of his family at the Tucson Fire Department. He began researching the link between firefighting and cancer.

"He started, once again, reading up about firefighter cancer. With that, he found that in Canada, and in some of the states, that firefighter cancer was considered job-related," said Quesnel.

The City of Tucson recognized Tom's passing as a line-of-duty death.

"That sort of began that process for firefighters here, so that future firefighters that run into these cancers won't have to go through so much of a process to get the help that they are supposed to get," said Quesnel.

Tom also paved the way for new safety measures in the department that would decrease exposure to toxins that can cause cancer.

"He asked for two things. The first being that everyone be required to wear protective equipment from that day forward. The second thing was that no family would have to go through what his family had gone through," said Quesnel.

Today, Tom's name stands alongside six others outside of the Tucson Fire Station. It's a reminder that no day should be taken for granted.

"Tom would be really glad to know that something came of this. That they are making everybody safer. That has been a really wonderful thing," said Quesnel.