CARMEL, IN-- The Carmel Fire Department is mourning the loss of one of its own, Mark Robinson, 51, after he passed away from liver cancer earlier this week. Robinson served nearly two decades with the department.
Fellow firefighters remembered Robinson for his love for life and passion for firefighting and coaching football.
"He was the type of guy that would just give everything," Renee Butts, a paramedic with the Carmel Fire Department, said.
"Mark lived his life with just a passion for everything," Carmel Fire Lt. Cory Essex said.
The Carmel Professional Firefighter's Union said Robinson is the only Carmel firefighter to pass away from cancer, a disease causing growing alarm in the firefighting community.
"In Indiana we have presumptive law so when a firefighter dies of cancer it's presumed that it was job related," Sean Sutton, the union president, said.
Multiple studies show firefighters have an increased risk of developing certain types of the disease.
"It's a epidemic on the fire service and it's ravaging the membership the numbers are going up," Indianapolis Fire Captain Tim McDonnell said.
McDonnell said IFD saw 5 of its own diagnosed with cancer in 2014, 8 in 2015 and 12 in 2016.
The department initiated steps to help curb those numbers, including 11 steps for washing gear and themselves, and using a detox sauna. McDonnell said they're also working to incorporate designs to help limit exposure in any new houses built.
The Carmel Fire Deparment also takes steps to protect its members, but Sutton said they plan to look at its policies and regulations to try to change more processes.
Moving forward, though, they're holding onto the memories of a beloved brother.
"It kinda makes you step back and look at the way you do things and want to be more like Mark with that passion that he had for everything really," Essex said.
"How he could constantly remain positive in his faith, in his family and in his friendship and I think positivity will be his legacy," Butts said.
Robinson's funeral is scheduled for Saturday.