Firefighters face a number of dangerous scenarios every day – fires, chemical spills or leaks, vehicle accidents – but one of the most significant threats to a firefighter’s life is cancer. According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, cancer caused 66% of the career firefighter line-of-duty deaths in recent years (Source: FCSN, International Association of Fire Fighters). Firefighters are almost 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer and 14 times more likely to die from cancer than the general population (Source: CDC, National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety).
History of the Firefighter Health Care Benefit Plan
The Firefighter Health Care Benefit Plan (S.1071) was signed into law on September 28, 2020 by Governor Henry McMaster, providing the state’s firefighters with enhanced healthcare coverage if they are diagnosed with cancer. Prior to the bill being passed, the South Carolina Firefighter Cancer Coalition was formed to address the devastating impact that firefighter cancer has had on the state's fire service professionals.
The Coalition - whose members include Carney Strong Initiative, Firefighter Cancer Support Network of South Carolina, Professional Fire Fighters Association of South Carolina, South Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs, South Carolina Forestry Commission, South Carolina State Fire, and South Carolina State Firefighters’ Association - led the coordinated and collective effort in an effort to pass the bill and continues to provide education and support in the fight against firefighter cancer.
Firefighter Cancer Database
If you’re a South Carolina firefighter who has been diagnosed with cancer, we want to hear from you. The Association is building a database of South Carolina firefighter cancer occurrences to include specific demographics and rates of cancer among our members. This data is key in providing better benefits and enacting laws to protect members. We are asking South Carolina firefighters to help build information on this tragic disease. If you have any type of cancer, or are a survivor, and are a firefighter in South Carolina, please complete this brief questionnaire. The database does not contain identifying information of the contributors.
PREVENTION & AWARENESS
There are ways to prevent firefighter cancer. We urge you to print posters to hang around the station, have conversations with your brothers and sisters, and do your part in advocating for a healthy fire service. The Firefighter Cancer Support Network is a great place to start when looking for educational resources and materials. The National Fire Protection Association also has materials available.
Wherever you choose to look to for guidance, we hope that you take the knowledge about cancer prevention and put it to action. Everyone goes home.
Latest Cancer Coalition Updates
01/02/23January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month
Research shows that firefighters are more likely to be diagnosed...
10/18/21Firefighter cancer databases
The South Carolina State Firefighters' Association and the Center for...
10/11/21Online exposure tracking resources
Each online exposure tracker is designed to help firefighters thoroughly...