Cancer in the Volunteer Fire Service

"When I became a volunteer, I knew I would be fighting fires. But, I did not know I would be fighting for my life ... fighting cancer."

A cancer diagnosis is always tragic, and tragedy has been mounting among volunteer firefighters and their families. New York State is home to over 92,000 volunteer firefighters who sacrifice their time, their safety and, too often, their health in service to their communities.

Firefighters are significantly more likely to develop many types of cancer than the general population

largely due to the high levels of carcinogens and other toxins found in burning buildings and hazardous environments. Effective education and better maintenance of equipment are essential to lowering the risk of cancer, but a simple fact remains: Firefighters are being diagnosed with cancer at a disturbingly high rate.

Volunteer firefighters who receive a cancer diagnosis face escalating medical bills and the possibility of lost wages as they become sicker and sicker. While career firefighters are afforded presumptive cancer coverage, there is no formal safety net currently in place to help those volunteer firefighters who need it most.

There is legislation before the New York State Senate and Assembly that would extend presumptive cancer coverage to volunteer firefighters, ensuring that those who have sacrificed on behalf of their communities will not be left searching for help.

It is critical that this legislation passes through the state Senate and Assembly and makes its way to the Governor’s desk. Protecting New York’s volunteer firefighters is not only the right thing to do, but is also the necessary thing to do.

To this end, FASNY urges you to call your State Senator and Assembly Member, and tell them that no firefighter should ever have to face cancer alone.

Cancer is everybody’s problem. It impacts each and every member of the fire service and, in turn, FASNY needs each and every member of the fire service to help share these stories. FASNY urges you to share these videos with your friends, your family, your colleagues, your organization and on social media.


"Fighting Fires | Fighting Cancer"

There is legislation before the New York State Senate and Assembly that would provide the necessary safety net for these brave men and women fighting cancer. Please call your State Senator and Assembly Member, and tell them you support this legislation because no firefighter should have to face cancer alone.

Health and Wellness Resources

FASNY believes “A Healthy Firefighter Is Everyone’s Fight.” In an effort to bring attention to the critical issue of wellness for first responders, puts numerous resources addressing heart conditions, mental health and cancer issues in a central location.


Founded in 1872, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) represents the interests of the more than 92,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York State. For more information, visit