The Fort Worth Fire Department is saying goodbye to one of its own. Captain Keven Teague died on Friday from pancreatic cancer and already his fellow firefighters are working to prove his disease was caused by his job.
It's a fight they're hoping will become easier thanks to a new bill passed through the Texas Legislature.
Teague served with the department for more than 23 years and passed away at age 46 after he battled advanced stages of pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver.
"He was the stereotypical big firefighter that you wanted coming to rescue you," said Michael Glynn, President of the Fort Worth Professional Firefighters Association. "He was a great guy. He was a good family man, he was a good father. He was a heck of a good firefighter."
According to the Fort Worth Professional Fire Fighters Association, Teague's cancer was a result of fighting fires and being exposed to heat, smoke, radiation and other suspected carcinogens.
Under Texas law, that should mean his cancer will be deemed a line of duty injury. But in case after case, Texas firefighters' workers comp claims for cancer have been denied, forcing them into lengthy appeals.
"We just want the cities to live up to what they've promised us," Glynn said.
Now, a new bill passed through the Texas Legislature could make that fight easier. It establishes 11 cancers that cities will accept as a line of duty injury.
"Then it creates penalties for the cities if they don't follow the law," Glynn said.
Teague's pancreatic cancer is not on that list. But firefighters can still work to prove that any cancer they develop was caused by their job.
"The cities are already denying us and they're making us have to go back and prove what we shouldn't have to prove in the first place," Glynn said. "So it's going to take us right back to what we're doing right now. It's going to help us with those 11 so that we don't have to go through this proving period, this proving phase that we contracted the cancer while on the job."
It's a growing mission to protect the next firefighter in line while leaving no man behind.
"I'm very confident that Captain Keven Teague's death will be considered in the line of duty," Glynn said.
The workers' comp bill still needs the governor's approval to take effect. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign it.
Jim Davis, Chief of the Fort Worth Fire Department released the following statement on Friday:
"Today the impact of cancer hit the Fort Worth Fire Department. Captain Keven Teague, a 24 year veteran, with a wife and two children ages 6 and 9 was diagnosed 14 days ago with cancer and this afternoon passed away. The FWFD will honor Keven in the future by becoming a leader in firefighter cancer reduction, research and strategy. Although the FWFD family grieves the loss of such a respected fire officer and friend, our focus will be to move heaven and earth to support his family moving forward. We ask that you keep the Teague family in your thoughts and prayers."
Funeral arrangements are being made for Teague and the department is asking the public to keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.