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As cancer numbers grow within American ranks, Scottsdale Fire Department seeks solutions

Photo of Scottsdale Fire Department HQ
A view of Scottsdale Police & Fire Headquarters. (Photo: Arianna Grainey/DigitalFreePress.com)

Scottsdale Fire: Comprehensive cancer screening en route

By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

Cancer is the No. 1 killer within firefighter ranks across the nation — the Scottsdale Fire Department is trying to do something about it.

A cursory review of statistics around cancer and American firefighters is staggering as cancer caused 66% of line-of-duty deaths in recent years, according to the International Association of Fire Fighters.

In all, firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and 14% more likely to die from cancer, according to research by the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety.


Scottsdale fire officials are seeking City Council approval Tuesday, Sept. 13, at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd., to seek federal grant dollars to provide for comprehensive cancer screening for all local firefighters.

“This proposed cancer screening program is the remaining item SFD requires to meet all Priority 1 activities for a complete wellness and fitness program,” said Scottsdale Deputy Fire Chief Adam Hoster in his report to City Council. “Firefighters are at increased risk for occupational cancer, and cancer screening is important in ensuring the health and safety of our firefighters.”

Deputy Chief Hoster explains comprehensive screening remains the No. 1 way to treat cancer as symptoms can emerge early on and much more likely to be successfully treated at that state, statistics show.

“Despite improved personal protective equipment and decontamination protocols, cancer remains the leading cause of death among firefighters,” he said. “SFD places a large emphasis on the health and wellness of its members and a cancer screening program, which meets NFPA 1582 standards. Treating early-stage cancer is not only less costly, but also allows for improved prognosis and outcomes, allowing the firefighter to return to work.”

The Scottsdale Fire Department HG is found along Indian School Road in central Scottsdale.
(Photo: Arianna Grainey/DigitalFreePress.com)

Scottsdale program & services pursued

The program pursued is a priority for Deputy Chief Hoster as early death from cancer is a genuine contemplation of on-duty firefighters, he reports.

“Lastly, with the increasing number of cancer deaths among firefighters, occupational cancer is a real fear among firefighters,” he pointed out.” A cancer screening program will not only ease current firefighter fears and anxiety, but a cancer awareness program will also improve recruitment and retention.”

The funding pursued is provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to FireFighters program, city records show.

Services provided through grant dollars include: Oncology consult for all firefighters to review each firefighter’s occupational exposure history, medical history and family history; dermatology consult and full body skin examination for all firefighters; whole-body MRI for all firefighters age 40 and above to screen for cancer of the brain, head and neck, thyroid, lung and pleura, breast, kidneys, pancreas, bladder, uterus and prostate, as well as multiple melanomas.

Potential Scottsdale City Council action:

Emboldened through resolution No. 12592, Scottsdale City Council, part of its consent agenda this Tuesday, will consider the following municipal maneuvers to provide for Fire Chief Tom Shannon executing all negotiations to provide for all requirements for the city to accept the grant. Those are:

  1. The FEMA assistance grant is up to $848,313 beginning in fiscal year 2022-23.
  2. Fire Chief Tom Shannon or designee to conduct all negotiations and to execute and submit all documents and other necessary or desirable instruments in connection with the acceptance of FEMA grant.
  3. A budget transfer, up to the amount of $771,194 from the adopted fiscal year 2022-23 future grants budget and/or grant contingency budget to a newly created grant operating center to record the related grant activity. The transfer is to cover the first year period beginning fiscal year 2022-23, to be funded by the grant.
  4. A budget transfer, up to the amount of $77,119, from the fiscal year 2022-23 adopted General Fund operating contingency to the fire department’s operating budget to cover the 10% required grant match.

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