When cancer strikes the firefighter community, they respond as any tightly knit family would, including the family dog. A fundraising bicycle ride to fight cancer in firefighters pedals through Santa Barbara on Friday, on its way down from Sausalito and headed ultimately for Santa Monica. As well as raising money for the International Firefighter Cancer Foundation (IFCF), Fire Velo’s goals include education at fire stations along the route on pet oxygen masks and raising awareness on canine cancer issues.
Drivers along the 101 will want to give the brightly clad cyclists some extra space as they take a steep route out of Lompoc down the coast to Goleta and Santa Barbara this morning. They’ll be cruising through the city along Hollister and Modoc, catching Las Positas and Cliff Drive to get to the beach. The day’s ride crosses Montecito along Channel Drive and Ortega Hill Road and heads down through Rincon to Ventura and Oxnard. The 31-member National Fire Velo cycling team requires each rider to raise a minimum of $1,000 to participate, and Santa Barbara city firefighter Patrick Irey is along for the ride from start to finish. He’ll be joined by Fire Captain Tony Pighetti when the group heads into town with a destination of East Beach Grill somewhere around lunchtime.
First responders’ jobs can surround them in cancer-causing chemicals, either on fire or as a byproduct of fire, and one of the topics of conversation at the firehouse visits is keeping contaminated gear out of the station living areas. In Santa Barbara, new exhaust systems help to ventilate the toxins away from firefighters. Another group the riders are spreading information about is IFCF Paws, which works on canine cancer issues and offers assistance to arson dogs and their handlers. A novel program by IFCF Paws is Shelter to Service Dog, which trains rescue pups to sniff out early forms of cancer.