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Calif. officials approve funding for FF cancer screenings, new dispatching software

The Chico Fire Department will receive over $348K to purchase a cancer screening program and Tablet Command software


Chico Fire Department/Facebook

By Michael Weber
Chico Enterprise-Record

CHICO, Calif. — The Chico City Council approved 6-0 Wednesday a $348,257 supplemental appropriation to purchase fire department dispatching software and occupational cancer screenings for fire personnel.

Chico Fire Department Chief Steve Standridge requested to purchase the cancer screening program, called Galleri Cancer Testing Program, citing studies showing firefighters have a higher chance of developing occupational cancer including a 14% increased risk of dying from cancer than the general population.

“Specific to firefighters as a whole, what they found is we have 11 different cancer types that are significantly higher than the general population,” he said, adding that risk for malignant mesothelioma and testicular cancer is doubled for firefighters.

Standridge said the department currently offers tests for a select few of cancer types, but the new tests would give the department the ability to test more than 50 types of cancer by using DNA recognition technology.

“This particular test is relatively new and has had extremely good results thus far,” with the test detecting 10 of 10 top cancers for men and eight of 10 top cancers for women in the general public, he said.

Standridge said the tests are not yet covered by insurance because the test is undergoing approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The price of the program is $229,807 with a per screening cost of $649 and an annual cost of about $26,000 per year.

Department retirees, company one volunteers, fire personnel family members and others as applicable will also be eligible for discounted out-of-pocket costs.

Also requested by the Fire Department is a new dispatching software, called Tablet Command, because its existing dispatching software is causing issues in the department.

Standridge said the current dispatching software is based on police dispatching which later added elements geared towards firefighters, and the department has found it problematic to use, he said.

“The current computer-aided dispatching system that we had just implemented has been very problematic from a fire department standpoint,” Standridge said, adding the department interviewed five local departments that use the system and found three are using Tablet Command.

The Tablet Command software aims to adjust the user interface of the current dispatching program to be more functional for firefighters to use — benefits including real-time dispatching, more accurate mapping, access to information layers and better mobile use, according to Standridge.

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