New grants to help protect firefighters from cancer danger

Protecting firefighters from cancer risk (6 p.m.)

SHALLOWATER, TX (KCBD) - Working as a firefighter is already a challenging job, but recent statistics indicate that it can also make you more susceptible to cancer.

"Currently, firefighters are battling cancer as a whole because firefighters are 10 percent more likely to have a cancer diagnosis then the general population," Joseph Wallace, president of Last Line of Cancer Defense, said. "It's just through the nature of the job."

A group of organizations are teaming up to raise awareness for firefighter occupational cancer and donate decontamination products to a volunteer or small municipal fire department each month.

"It's important to get these products to firefighters, especially rural firefighters, because they have limited means and financial restraints to order these things," Wallace said.

After losing her husband to firefighter occupational cancer, one woman is working with a few other organizations to raise awareness and hopefully keep other families from going through the same pain.

"We can all say firefighting is a dangerous job, we all know that, but we really weren't looking at a cancer side of it very much," Cory Buck, Fire Chief of Shallowater Fire Department, said. "We started seeing this and seeing this our brothers, our family, our sisters out there were coming down with these rare forms of cancers and we found out that is a significant danger for us in the fire service contracting cancer."

Every month, the Carney Strong Initiative, Brothers Helping Brothers, and other organizations team up and select one volunteer fire department to receive a grant of decontamination products for firefighters to use to protect themselves.

"They receive decontamination wipes from Responder Wipes, gear cleaner from Solution Safety, and some hard surface cleaner. Then we provide some decon soap, activated charcoal soap," Wallace said.

This month, the grant will go to Shallowater Fire Department.

"I think one of the greatest thing this particular grant will have for us is just getting those products so it reminds us this is real and its serious," Buck said. "It can happen to anyone."

The grant will be presented to Shallowater Fire Department Saturday at the fire department's annual shindig.

To donate or apply to the initiative, click here.

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