Scottsdale Fire Department will participate in a new $4 million grant to address occupational-related cancer among firefighters awarded by the Arizona Board of Regents.
The University of Arizona will lead the study in partnership with the Arizona Fire Chiefs Association and Arizona State University. The research will test the effectiveness of whether blood or plasma donations lower cancer-causing “forever chemicals” levels. Firefighters encounter per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in many ways, including burning household items, potential contamination from personal protective equipment and firefighter foam, which is used to put out burning liquids.
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.
“This grant and the research it will fund are beacons of hope for our firefighters,” said Tom Shannon, Scottsdale Fire Chief and Arizona Fire Chiefs Association President. “Our great hope is that it will improve life outcomes for our firefighters.”
The fire chiefs association also will partner with the Professional Firefighters of Arizona to recruit firefighters from throughout the state in both fire districts and municipalities in this research. SFD personnel will be included in the 1,500 targeted group.
“We are committed to protecting and saving the lives of these people who put their lives on the line for our communities daily,” Shannon said.
Chief Shannon’s dedication to this effort is especially strong as his nephew Austin Peck, a Goodyear Firefighter, died from occupational cancer in 2019. The 11-year veteran of the fire service was diagnosed with the rare sino-nasal undifferentiated carcinoma in 2015.
“We miss him every day,” said Shannon.
For more information about the cancer study, visit www.azregents.edu and search “firefighter cancer research grant”