Josh Carney, Battalion Chief at Midway Fire Rescue in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, was 41 years old when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma in June 2017. This aggressive cancer claimed Josh’s life less than four months later. While he understood the well-known risks of being a firefighter, Carney and his family did not understand the hidden dangers of firefighter occupational cancer. His diagnosis stemmed from his more than 25-year career as a firefighter.
To continue Josh’s legacy, his family has made it their mission to raise awareness of firefighter occupational cancer. Lillian, Josh’s wife, stated, “I do not want another wife at Midway, or another wife anywhere, to have to be handed the folded flag that was once on her husband's casket."
His cousin, Kristine Powers, worked to raise funds to purchase Responder Wipes, on-scene decontamination wipes, which she donated to the North Haven Fire Headquarters in North Haven, Connecticut. This fire department is a combination career and volunteer department. It is also the family’s hometown department where Josh started his career and where his best friend is still a firefighter. Powers raised over $1,000 allowing her to purchase enough wipes to supply the department for over a year.
Once Responder Wipes learned of Kristine’s efforts to honor Battalion Chief Carney, they partnered with the Carney family to launch the “Carney Strong Initiative.” The initiative selects one volunteer or small municipal fire department each month to provide firefighters with educational materials and decontamination products.
In addition to Responder Wipes providing decontamination wipes, the “Carney Strong Initiative” is partnered with Solutions Safety Products and Services, Last Line of Cancer Defense, Firewipes, and Firefighter Cancer Consultants. Solutions Safety Products and Services provide “CitroSqueeze Turnout Gear Cleaners” and “SC-14 Station Cleaners” to firefighters. Last Line of Cancer Defense provides “Activated Charcoal Decon Soap” that firefighters use when showering after a fire. Firewipes provide decontamination wipes for firefighters to use after fire exposure, and Firefighter Cancer Consultants provide decontamination practices through online training.
The Carney family’s hope is that Josh’s legacy will live on by raising cancer awareness and providing prevention tools to firefighters, both career and volunteer. By working together, these partners believe in mitigating the firefighter occupational cancer risk to ensure that firefighters go home to their loved ones at the end of the day.