Archived Story

Boot drive to help this spring’s Relay for Life

Published 10:07am Friday, April 19, 2013


ROME TOWNSHIP — Collecting donations is nothing new for the Rome Volunteer Fire Department. Historically, firefighters in the small Lawrence County community have depended upon generosity to support firefighting; but, when firefighters take to the streets for Saturday’s Boot Drive / Car Stop, they will not be collecting money to support firefighting but for an entirely new purpose, to “Give Cancer the Boot.”

The benefit event, which will take place from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the intersection of County Road 107 and County Road 411 at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds, is slated to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, an annual event in the county.

Weeks ago the department established a Relay for Life team, named the “RVFD Fire Walkers,” and set out to raise money for cancer research.

According to Joe Burgess, chief of the organization, the organization, and the fire service in general has been impacted by the dreaded disease.

“This is personal. We’ve had firefighters and family members of firefighters who have succumbed to cancer or who have fought and survived due to advances in research.” said Burgess. “Cancer among firefighters is prevalent, and we want to do our part, not only to focus attention on the issue, but do something about it. This is just another way we as firefighters choose to give back.”

Helping others is nothing new for fire departments and other emergency organizations. Every day thousands of firefighters across the U.S. face not only the risks associated with protecting life and property but also a great risk for cancer.

The toll on individual firefighters is often not seen for years as they face exposure to known carcinogens in their work environment.

According to a 2009 article by Anne Gagliano in the firefighting publication “FireEngineering” firefighters are at a greater risk than the general population for developing cancer. She wrote:

“Firefighter Mark Noble, who died of brain cancer, compiled the statistics below. They compare the likelihood of firefighters developing the following cancers to that of the general population:

• Brain cancer: 3.5 times more likely in firefighters with 10 to 19 years of experience.

• Leukemia/lymphoma: three times more likely.

• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: two times more likely.

• Multiple myeloma: 2.25 times more likely; after 30 years, 10 times.

• Bladder cancer: three times more likely.

• Kidney cancer: four times more likely.

• Prostate cancer: two times more likely.

• Testicular cancer: 2.5 times more likely.

• Colorectal cancer (large intestine): two times more likely.

• Liver cancer: two times more likely.

• Skin cancer: two times more likely. (3)”

“The RVFD Fire Walkers” think those statistics are good motivation for their efforts. Chief Burgess said, “Like so many other individuals and teams do each year, we wanted to pull together and do our part in the fight against cancer. Neighbors helping neighbors goes beyond just providing emergency response” he said.

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