An organization here is teaming up with the family of a firefighter killed by occupational cancer.
Josh Carney, 41, died just four months after receiving a Stage 4 Melanoma Cancer diagnosis. Doctors said Carney, a Battalion Chief with Midway Fire Rescue in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, contracted the disease from almost two decades of exposure to carcinogens.
Nick Magoteaux, a volunteer firefighter and founder and co-executive director of Dayton non-profit Brothers Helping Brothers, explained cancer is one of the leading causes of death for firefighters.
“Firefighters have an increased likelihood of getting cancer than the general public,” Magoteaux said. “It’s from the sheer fact of all the hazardous chemicals and toxins that are released when battling a structure fire.”
When Carney died in 2017, his family pledged to build awareness of cancer risks and help prevent the heartache it experienced during his sudden illness and death. To honor his legacy, Carney’s wife and cousin raised funds to purchase enough Responder Wipes, disposable, on scene decontamination cloths, to supply Carney’s hometown fire department in North Haven, Connecticut for more than a year.
When Responder Wipes heard about the family’s efforts to protect fire crews, it joined the mission and enlisted help from Brothers Helping Brothers.
The Dayton-based non-profit provides equipment for small and rural fire departments throughout the nation. Magoteaux said helping those same departments arm themselves against cancer was a natural addition to the organization’s work.
“It’s important that we make sure we have the right tools to do the job, in the most safe and efficient way possible,” Magoteaux said.
Wednesday, the newly-established “Carney Strong” initiative officially made its first donation to the North Haven Fire Department.
In addition to Responder Wipes, Solutions Safety Products and Services is donating tool and equipment cleaners CitroSqueeze and SC-14, Last Line of Cancer Defense is donating activated charcoal soap and detox supplement Overhaul.
Each month, Carney Strong will select one volunteer or small municipal fire department to receive the products, as well as educational materials.
“The fire culture is a brotherhood; it’s a family,” said Magoteaux said of the initiative. “No matter what, we always try to take care of our own. We try to be each other’s keeper.”
To learn more about Carney Strong, sign up your fire department for consideration or donate, click here.