Some of the names are written in short, small letters, and some are cursive. A few have hearts hanging on their sides, and some have short notes of scruff in the permanent mark.
Each name written on the pink truck of the Berea Fire Department is different, and each has its own story.
Assistant fire chief Alan Myers called them “a story of hope and courage,” and his name appeared a few feet above the truck pump outlet.
These signatures are part of the department’s “Fire for Treatment” initiative, and each signature represents another person’s fight against cancer. The name on the side of the truck is handwritten, and dozens of letters on the cab are printed in bold, uniform letters, each with a different color band.
The space is used by current and retired members of the Berea Fire Department and their immediate family members.
In total, there are about 46 names in a department of about 40 people. When Myers first volunteered to the department more than 30 years ago, he thought he knew the risks. Burning buildings, smoke, collapsed buildings.
But until recently, he and other firefighters began to realize that a danger, one call after another, would spread through the gaps in their switch devices and take root in their skin pores. The danger of lingering in the lungs still exists for a long time after the smoke has cleared.
According to data from the International Fire Fighters Association, the number of firefighter deaths caused by work-related cancers exceeds all other public causes. In the Association’s Fallen Firefighters Memorial Wall Memorial in Colorado, 65% of the additional deaths between 2002 and 2018 were due to occupational cancer. Data linking firefighting with cancer, and the death rate of first responders in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, have forced states to expand the benefits of firefighters fighting the disease.
However, South Carolina is only one of two states that have not yet passed a law supporting some form of cancer protection for firefighters.
A bill submitted by State Senator Thomas Alexander (R-Oconee) in February will change this situation and establish an insurance fund for all qualified professional and volunteer firefighters to help pay for cancer treatment and provide for the families of the deceased welfare.
Myers said the bill would be an important step in recognizing a fatal and long-neglected issue in the fire service.
After Myers was diagnosed with the disease in 2017, a few months have made a connection between his condition and his career.
This senior doctor with 35 years of experience in Berea Fire went to see a doctor and complained of poor appetite and heartburn, and learned that he had stage 3 gastric cancer. Soon after the diagnosis, a surgeon removed the tumor from his intestine, gallbladder, bile duct, part of the pancreas and part of the small intestine.
After Miles was discharged from the hospital, he read a series of studies that linked his profession to increased cancer risk. This includes a study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, which studied 30,000 firefighters in the United States
Studies have found that firefighters are twice as likely to develop testicular cancer and mesothelioma as anyone else. They are 53% more likely to be diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and 51% more likely to have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
When he started working in the department, a set of dirty switch gear was a badge of honor. Signs indicate that its owner has been combat tested. He couldn’t help thinking of soot and all the carcinogens contained in soot, which clumped up when they hung on the workbench, and what it meant when they put on their clothes again.
For many years, Myers and his firefighters would stay in unwashed gear after receiving a call, and eat immediately after clearing the scene without proper disinfection.
He said: “This is not to say we are Lure, but that.” “Research does not exist yet.”
As more and more information links cancer to fire protection, departments in the state and across the country have begun to implement strict decontamination procedures and health guidelines.
At the Berea Fire Department, some of these changes include decontamination of fire sites after exposure, washing machines that meet high-level cleaning standards, and decontamination wipes that are routinely used.
Justin Lenker, president of the Midway Professional Firefighters Association, said that although departments are responding to this threat, the state has been slow to act.
He said: “I lost a lot of friends with cancer.” “I think this is what South Carolina needs.”
Alexander’s bill would set aside $3.5 million a year for insurance funds. Qualified firefighters will receive:
Alexander said: “To help our firefighters through these unfortunate moments, this is a price worth paying.”
The policy will be extended to active-duty firefighters who have worked in the state for at least five years, as well as retired firefighters who have been out of the wild for up to 10 years.
Lillian Carney said that if a firefighter dies of cancer, the legislation will classify it as the cause of death, expanding the welfare of his family. This change will make the deceased husband in his life. Some peace of mind in the last few days.
Josh Carney is the battalion commander of the Midway Fire and Battalion on Pali Island, South Carolina, where he has worked for about 18 years. In 2017, he noticed that the back of his head looked like acne or ingrown hair, but he didn’t think about it too much.
Multiple PET scans revealed that there were too many tumors in his head, neck and trunk to count. Lillian Carney said that his official diagnosis is stage 4 skin cancer, but because the tumor has spread so much, it is impossible to say exactly its origin.
Lillian Carney (Lillian Carney) died shortly after the diagnosis, he said, they have the ability to use their savings to pay for their out-of-pocket expenses. However, if the treatment lasted longer, she was not sure what they would do.
She said: “This is one of Catch-22.” “If he enters a new treatment cycle, we won’t have enough money in our savings account.”
If he just died at the scene, he would tell his wife shortly before his death that he would know that he would be taken care of.
Lillian Carney said: “When death is considered a job duty, if their children go to a public university in South Carolina, their tuition is paid.” “He said if he was going to go If he did, he hoped that he would be knocked down by a car in response to a motor vehicle accident, because at least it was a death sentence.”
Josh Carney was not the first person to be diagnosed with cancer in Midway Fire and Rescue, nor was he the last. Lenk said that in the short period of time since his death, two of the 65 firefighters on Midway have battled the disease. Both are now cancer free and can work normally.
Miles also returned to work. He started chemotherapy a few months after undergoing surgery in 2017 and started working again.
But in the late summer of 2019, a PET scan found a small amount of cancer in his stomach, and he resumed chemotherapy.
He said: “They just want to stay aggressive in this small place to make sure they take care of it.”
As the fight against cancer resumed, his struggle to create safer conditions for firefighters also continued. He recently volunteered to mentor other firefighters diagnosed with cancer and continues to train recruits how to protect themselves.
He said: “The first thing we want to say to recruits is,’At the end of the shift, our main goal for you is to enable you to go home.” “Our message now is that we want you to be at the end of the shift. Go home, but we also want you to be healthy.”
Lillian Carney also joined the work. After her husband passed away, she launched the Carney Strong Initiative to promote awareness and increase the chance of using decontamination wipes.
She has a say in the current state Senate drafting the bill. She said it was surprising that her husband received insufficient support from the state after being diagnosed, and she hoped that other firefighters would not have to go through this process.
She said: “Not only did he work in the fire department for 25 years, he spent nearly 18 years in South Carolina.” “Then everything was gone after that.”
Conor Hughes is a public safety reporter for the Greenville News. Contact him via email firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @ConorJHughes.
Post time: Jan-09-2021