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Chandler to offer free cancer screenings to firefighters

Chandler will use a federal grant worth nearly a million dollars to offer firefighters cancer screenings, the latest step to improve workplace safety.

Firefighters can be exposed to hundreds of chemicals, including substances known or suspected to cause cancer. They can get on their skin, in their eyes or inhale them. In a recorded video, Chandler Assistant Fire Chief Keith Hargis said they’ll contact every firefighter to offer individualized screenings.

“Age plays a role as well as years of service and exposure to carcinogens that we get from the job. And all kinds of services will take place from oncology visits to imaging of the lungs and full body MRIs to blood tests that screen for dozens of cancer types,” he said.

Chandler will use a $963,400 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $96,340 in city funds for enhanced career prevention and diagnosis services from Vincere Cancer Center through May 2024.

To help limit exposure to carcinogens found in smoke and chemicals, each firefighter has an extra set of gear to allow for proper cleaning between calls. To avoid decontamination, their gear and boots are also kept out of living quarters to and transition rooms were created between the apparatus bay and living quarters to limit exposure to diesel fumes and hazardous substances. Hargis said Chandler also requires firefighters to keep wearing air packs even when a fire is extinguished.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.