By Yona Gavino

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BEDFORD (CBS11) – The Bedford Fire Department says it’s the first in the country to offer a new early cancer screening test for firefighters.

This after Bedford firefighter, Lt. Keith Long died December 8, after a four-year battle with cancer.

Bedford firefighter Lt. Keith Long

Bedford firefighter Lt. Keith Long

“He’s talked about every day still,” explained Chris Conner, President of the Bedford Professional Firefighter’s Association. “He was the guy that everybody looked up to.”

Conner believes Long’s death from cancer was related to hazards from the job.

“Everything that is burned gives off a carcinogen. Plastics have a lot of nasty things in them,” said Conner.

The loss inspired a new initiative by firefighters that could save their own lives. It’s called ONCOblot, and it’s a blood test that can detect known cancer-causing chemicals.

“Not all the information was there five years ago that – what we were getting into on fires – was potentially killing us down the road,” said firefighter Alex Hardy.

Testing will be available in March. Results take around two weeks. It’s a chance to live longer in a world filled with risks.

“You risk a lot to save a lot,” said Conner.

The test is voluntary. Most of the city’s firefighters say they plan to take it.

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