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York City Fire Department receives cancer prevention supplies, honors fallen firefighter

Rebecca Klar
York Dispatch

On the one-year anniversary of firefighter Josh Carney's death, his family is helping to limit occupational cancer deaths at a department more than 500 miles away from the South Carolina department where he served. 

The Carney Strong Initiative donated cancer prevention supplies to the York City Fire Department on Friday, Oct. 19, to honor the lives of Midway Fire Rescue Chief Carney and York City firefighter Tim Bair.

York Area United Fire and Rescue member Chris Mowry, left, gives York City Fire Chief David Michaels fire wipes as part of a Carney Strong Initiative donation on Friday, Oct. 19. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

Bair died at 63 in September.     

"Josh and Tim were probably one in the same," said Chris Mowry, a York Area United Fire and Rescue member who was friends with both men. "You would've thought their personalities were exactly alike."

Mowry noticed the match in the two firefighters who both went "above and beyond" to help others, and he suggested to Carney's widow, who helps run the initiative, that the supplies be donated to the York City department, he said. 

Both firefighters died from occupational cancer, Carney from melanoma and Bair from brain cancer.

Retired firefighter Tim Bair is greeted by, from left, York City Fire Chief Dave Michaels, York City Mayor Michael Helfrich and York City Deputy Fire Chief Chad Deardorff during a recognition of retired firefighters at the York City Fire Department's awards ceremony at York City Hall on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. Bill Kalina photo

Their deaths follow a trend of increasing cancer rates among firefighters, York City Fire Chief David Michaels said. 

A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study published in 2016 found that firefighters showed higher rates of certain types of cancer, mainly digestive, oral, respiratory and urinary cancers, than the general U.S. population. 

The Carney Strong Initiative donated four box of Fire Wipes and three packs of Responder Wipes, different brands of similar products, Michaels said. The department can reach out to get more in the future. 

Mowry likened the products to wet wipes that firefighters can use to wipe down exposed areas before returning to the department and getting out of their gear. 

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Bair's widow, Kim Bair, is happy to see the department bringing more awareness about cancer prevention practices, she said. 

"Hopefully something like this will make them see and understand it's very important to have safety come first," she said. "It's a wonderful idea." 

The wipes are just one way the department is practicing cancer prevention, Michaels said. 

Other measures include two in-house washers and dryers to clean gear as well as keeping gear away from living and resting areas, the chief said.