Fla. firefighters given cancer decontamination kits
To help firefighters decrease their risk of cancer, Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is giving decontamination kits to every station in Florida
By Collin Breaux
The News Herald
PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Cancer is a common affliction for firefighters, and that's unacceptable to state fire marshal and Panama City native Jimmy Patronis.
To help firefighters who frequently encounter smoke and contaminants, Patronis is giving cancer-fighting decontamination kits to every fire station in Florida and stopped at his hometown fire station Tuesday to talk about the effort.
"When we look at 2016 alone and talk about deaths in the line of duty, 70 percent of them are cancer-related, and that is an unacceptable number," said Patronis, also Florida's chief financial officer (CFO), as firefighters lined up around him. "I've seen what goes into your job day in and day out. ... With it being such a large contributing factor to shortening the lives of our first responders, solutions had to come forth."
Watch LIVE as #MDFR receives cancer-fighting decontamination kits from Florida’s CFO & State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis. These kits will help first responders reduce the risk of developing job-related cancers.Posted by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue on Thursday, October 4, 2018
The decontamination kits were created in partnership with the University of Miami's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and will help mitigate firefighters' exposure to contaminants that could cause cancer, according to a news release. The decontamination kits were awarded through a $1 million grant to the firefighter cancer mitigation grant program.
Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said the risk of cancer for firefighters is 15 percent greater than the average job, based on recent discussions.
Panama City Fire Chief Alex Baird thanked Patronis and Gov. Rick Scott for supporting first responders. Several Panama City firefighters have dealt with cancer, and the fire department is taking steps to handle cancer, including body scans to detect it, Baird said.
"We've put together a cancer prevention committee to address those issues," Baird said. "We've given our inspectors respirators so when they do their inspections, they have protection. ... We appreciate the work the Sylvester Center at the University of Miami is doing and the research into cancer prevention."
Patronis said the idea for the kits came about when he learned about a firefighter stricken with cancer shortly after Patronis started his current role. Thousands of kits will be rolled out statewide.
"You're trying to eliminate the possibilities of contaminants getting in their lungs and on their skin," Patronis said.
Patronis, a Republican, is challenged by Democrat Jeremy Ring for the CFO position in the November election. Patronis was appointed to the CFO position in 2017 by Gov. Rick Scott.
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