Mitch Gauge and Steve Calzone

Mitch Gauge and Steve Calzone (L to R), both military firefighters, who suffer from a wide-range of medical problems they believe may be linked to toxic chemicals in firefighting foam. 

WDEL's four-part series “Fighting Fire with Fire” digs deep into toxic “forever chemicals” like PFAS and PFOA prior to the release of the Hollywood film, Dark Waters

Part 1 of "Fighting Fire with Fire" chronicles local military firefighters who believe their persistent exposure to the chemicals decades ago may be responsible for a multitude of health problems they’re currently experiencing. They're now engaged in a post-military retirement battle to get the Veterans Administration to recognize and treat these medical conditions.

Part 2 of "Fighting Fire with Fire" details the health struggles of a career firefighter from Worcester, Massachusetts. Paul Cotter, the perfect epitome of health, got prostate cancer at age 55, a devastating diagnosis that ended his beloved career. This installment tells the story of his wife’s crusade to get the International Association of Firefighters to recognize that the toxic chemicals contained in the gear that often protects and saves firefighters lives may also be killing them.   

Part 3 of “Fighting Fire with Fire” dives deep into landmark research by University of Notre Dame nuclear physicist Dr. Graham Peaslee, who’s called PFAS contamination the largest pollution problem the U.S. has ever faced.  WDEL could only speak to Graham by telephone as he traveled for business.

Part 4 of "Fighting Fire with Fire" reveals that toxic chemicals have contaminated groundwater at Dover Air Force Base and federal efforts by Delaware’s delegation to get answers from the U.S. Department of Defense Secretary.  U.S. Senator Tom Carper, a veteran himself, and U.S. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, pledged to fight for the brave, particularly, those military firefighters from Delaware, you met in Part 1, who are, plagued by health problems. 

This series aired on 101.7 FM/1150 AM WDEL over the course of several days in October of 2019.