CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Firefighters have one of the highest rates of injuries and illness of all occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Dorchester County leaders say government grants to help keep firefighters fit and healthy are paying off.
At the end of last year, Dorchester County Fire Rescue was awarded two FEMA grants for a total of $826,804.
As we noticed recently in the county’s check register expenditures, that money is now hard at work for firefighters.
Last month the county spent more than $46,000 for firefighter wellness and fit-for-duty exams.
Life Scan, the company they hired, says “experts consider police officers and firefighters to have the highest risk for heart disease, pulmonary disease and cancer of any occupation” on its website.
A county spokesperson said the wellness exams “help us reduce injuries and keep our employees safer.”
The rest of that federal grant money is being used to install diesel exhaust capture systems in six fire stations to reduce exposure to diesel smoke. The funding is also paying for three new full time firefighter positions for three years.
Dorchester County reported that compared to the General Population, firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying of cancer. They are working on reducing cancer risks in all of their firefighters.