Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Monday announced the allocation of $15,219.71 in cancer decontamination equipment funding to three fire departments in the Panhandle area as part of the state’s effort to provide firefighters with $250,000 in funding to obtain cancer-mitigating materials.
A top priority of CFO Patronis during the 2021 Legislative Session, the Cancer Decontamination Grant Program within the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) helps protect the health and safety of firefighters by providing financial aid to mitigate exposure to hazardous, cancer-causing chemicals.
“These brave men and women protect Floridians everyday no matter the cost,” said Patronis. “Between digging through the rubble of Surfside in South Florida to suppressing wildfires in the Panhandle, our firefighters are always ready to run toward danger to save the lives of others. As a result of their dangerous profession, firefighters are also more likely to contract cancer than you and me. Our firefighters dedicate their lives to protecting our communities and we must do everything we can to protect and support these heroes. Today, we sent a clear message that Florida stands with our firefighters.”
Cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighters’ health and safety today, with the risks of having cancer being significantly higher among firefighters than the general population. Cancer caused 66 percent of the career firefighter line-of-duty deaths from 2002 to 2019, according to data from the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)
Cancer caused 70 percent of the line-of-duty deaths for career firefighters in 2016. 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, according to research by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety.
The funding is part of a state effort to lower cancer rates across the state at large.
The Florida Fire Chiefs Association this past weekend endorsed Patronis in his bid for re-election as Chief Financial Officer. Patronis, as CFO, additionally serves as Florida’s State Fire Marshall.
“We are pleased to announce that we endorse Jimmy Patronis for re-election as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal,” the group said in a statement. “CFO Patronis has continued to advocate for legislation that supports firefighters and first responders across the state and we’ve been shoulder-to-shoulder with him many times as we headed into disasters. He’s a man of his word and isn’t afraid to face adversity for our firefighters.”