JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety.
In an effort to raise awareness about cancer being the most dangerous threat to firefighters’ health and safety and change cancer coverage for firefighters, more than two dozen gathered this morning at the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters office in Riverside and then walked to City Hall.
Jacksonville firefighters and others from agencies all over the state participated in the Carrying my Brother's Burden Walk and made a promise to fight for protection for firefighters.
The walk was organized by Tom "Bull" Hill. He started the walk about a year ago after two of his firefighter friends were diagnosed and died of cancer. He walked from the 0 Mile Marker in Key West to Tallahassee to raise awareness and change cancer coverage for firefighters.
"I am honoring the firefighters," Bull said. "Families of the fallen firefighters say they always get some kind of healing out of this."
He hopes lawmakers take notice, saying legislation is needed to better cover firefighters and their families.
"We’re taking care of the people of the state and their property and it’s only right for our families to be taken care of when we die," Bull said.
The Florida Professional Firefighters support Florida Senate Bill 426 and Florida House Bill 857. The legislation would allow cancer coverage to be carried into retirement and cover cancers that have been found to be more prevalent in firefighters.