Tough in pink: Firefighters’ fundraiser for breast cancer awareness

BETHESDA, Md. — Red, blue, and fuchsia: They are the colors of the Montgomery County firefighters uniforms this month.

And, master firefighter Doug Wallace says the new gear seems to be catching the public’s attention.

“Being out, washing the firetrucks, people going by blowing the horns, giving us the thumbs up and stuff … Even little kids know what the pink shirts are all about,” Wallace says.

Wallace runs the department’s Think Pink: Fighting for a Cure initiative. Many of his coworkers have been affected by cancer he says, including Lt. Christina Dietz.

“I myself had a lump when I was 20, but it turned out to be benign,” Dietz says.

Dietz’s grandmother died from the disease and her mother-in-law is in remission from breast cancer.

Firefighters are among the professions most affected by cancer.

“It’s just because of the atmospheres that we’re exposed to. The constant hazardous environments, whether it be smoke, hazardous materials, the gear we wear everyday, the absorption our skin takes to the contaminants or the smoke-filled atmospheres and all,” Wallace explains.

The department’s fundraising effort benefits Maryland cancer support organization The Red Devils.

This year, they picked a bright fuschia hue — similar to the color NFL players wear — for a good reason.

“The light pink ones last year got dirty pretty easily,” Wallace says.

This is the department’s third year wearing pink for breast cancer awareness month. The International Association of Firefighters adopted the initiative in 2010, Wallace says.