Fire department relief fund to help pay for cancer screenings for Boston firefighters

Two out of three Boston firefighters will be diagnosed with cancer; 27 Boston firefighters under the age of 70 died from cancer between 2012 and 2017; and 13 are currently on leave due to cancer, according to the Boston Fire Department Relief Fund.

In response to those alarming statistics, the Boston Fire Department Relief Fund has launched a new initiative to promote firefighter cancer screening and subsidize 50 percent of the costs of cancer screening and cardiovascular tests that are not covered by insurance.

The subsidized body scans will be available to firefighters who are over 50 years old and have 20 or more years of service in the Boston Fire Department.


“It’s to help promote early detection,” said Chris Puiia, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department Relief Fund.

Puiia said these kind of body scans typically cost around $800 and aren’t covered by insurance. The initiative launched at the beginning of this year, and they started accepting applications about two weeks ago, he said.

“Statistics show that firefighters are more than twice as likely to develop cancer during their lifetime compared to civilians,” the relief fund website states. In Boston specifically, 67% of firefighters will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. Even after additional precautionary measures have been implemented across the Department, the number of cancer diagnosis and death continue to rise at an alarming rate.”

“Although the dangers of the job will never change, the Relief Fund can help improve firefighter health and wellness by detecting potential problems before they become too big to solve,” the relief fund’s website states.

To make a donation to the Boston Fire Department Relief Fund, visit

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.