South Fulton Aims To Tackle Firefighter Cancer With Physicals And Counseling

The men and women working to keep you alive in case of a fire, face a multitude of health risks of their own, even after flames are extinguished

The city hopes this new health initiative will help fire employees catch health concerns before it’s too late.

South Fulton Deputy Fire Chief Sterling Jones tells FOX 5’s Alex Whittler this new program is unique because it will include mental health screenings. He says he hopes this heightened focus on firefighters’ wellbeing–inside and out–will encourage other departments to invest in something similar.

Everyday men and women put themselves at risk to water down blazes, no matter how daunting the size. January’s massive Camelot Club Condos fire in South Fulton was so large that it required help from South Fulton, Union City and College park firefighters.

Many victims were forced to jump from balconies and toss kids to safety.

Thankfully all 60 displaced residents survived the flames, but firefighters worked to douse the flames for half a day, wallowing in soot and toxins.

And that was just one day’s worth of work.

All of that exposure to chemicals day, after day, has proven to take a toll on one’s health. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports a 9 percent increase the number of in firefighters diagnosed with cancer.

The institute finds a 14 percent increase in industry cancer-related deaths, compared to the general U.S. population.

Those numbers aren’t taken lightly in South Fulton.

Marietta-based healthcare company, SiteMed will perform the yearly physicals as part of the city’s new $62,000 budgeted contract.

The tests will be of body and mind.

These yearly medical evaluations can provide early detection of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other conditions that often plague firefighters.

This comes just weeks after South Fulton city council members approved more than $1 million worth of protective gear such as jackets, coats, pants, helmets, etc. for the city’s fire personnel.

Officials are still working on a start date for the new medical evaluations.

From www.fox5atlanta.com