Members of South King Fire will wear uniform t-shirts donning a pink logo in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Members of South King Fire will wear uniform t-shirts donning a pink logo in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

South King Fire sports new shirts in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month

‘Every family has been touched by [cancer] in some way,’ says SKFR Lt. Shannon Oltman.

South King Fire and Rescue’s uniforms may look a bit different this month — but for a good reason.

In support of Breast Cancer Awareness month this October, SKFR members can be found in shirts sporting pink IAFF Local 2024 and department decals.

“I personally have a passion for cancer awareness, especially in the fire service,” said SKFR Lt. Shannon Oltman, who headed the awareness project. “It really meant a lot to have support from both sides, not only the Local, but also the administration to bring this to fruition.”

For decades, there has been a lack of understanding surrounding the prevalence of cancer in the fire service, Oltman explained.

It used to not be a big deal because people didn’t realize the link between the work environments of firefighting and the link to cancer, she said.

“There is more and more data coming out proving the links to our exposures,” she said. “We are exposed daily … if it’s diesel fumes, or if it’s going into a fire, if it’s going in after a fire where there’s still off-gassing happening. We’re constantly exposed and it’s that long-term exposure over the course of our career that puts us at high risk.”

Firefighters face a 9% increase in cancer diagnoses, and a 14% increase in cancer-related deaths compared to the general U.S. population, according to recent studies regarding firefighter cancer by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Depending on the type of cancer, those in the fire service are at a much greater risk for developing cancer than the general population, Oltman said. As more studies are done, knowledge of the risk for women in the fire service is still evolving.

“For women, because there’s fewer women in the fire service, it’s a little bit behind on the trends and the documentation,” she said. “There’s a lot more in line with the male counterpart cancers.”

“This [information] was just starting to really come out as I was entering the fire service,” she said.

Oltman has been in the fire service for over six years. When she began her career as a mother of two kids, the health concerns did not deter her from fulfilling her lifelong passion in the career, “but it was something where I wanted to enter the fire service with a proactive approach.”

In 2018, the Alberta government in Canada amended the Workers Compensation Act to provide coverage for women who are diagnosed with ovarian and cervical cancer during their fire service careers, according to the Calgary Herald.

“That’s still a work in progress here in the states,” she said.

More than the symbolic shirts, Oltman said, this awareness project is to show the department’s unity with the community.

“We are a community representation,” Oltman said. “Our department, not only are there multiple members and family members who have been survivors of breast cancer, every family has been touched by it in some way.”

By demonstrating South King’s support, Oltman said the department hopes Federal Way and the society at large see the public entity’s concern and awareness for the greater good.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

Jane Chaney, front in pink helmet, is a breast cancer survivor. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Jane Chaney, front in pink helmet, is a breast cancer survivor. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

South King’s administrative team, crews from stations 67, 65, 63 and 62, and various Local 2024 members gather to show department-wide support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

South King’s administrative team, crews from stations 67, 65, 63 and 62, and various Local 2024 members gather to show department-wide support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

The back of South King Fire and Rescue’s Breast Cancer Awareness shirts. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

The back of South King Fire and Rescue’s Breast Cancer Awareness shirts. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

More in News

Fighting the coronavirus, 100 masks at a time

In the early 1930s, Dorothy Lucille used whatever she had on hand… Continue reading

The Performing Arts and Events Center in Federal Way will remain closed through April 27. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
Closures of city-owned facilities extended

The Federal Way Community Center, Dumas Bay Centre and PAEC to remain closed through April 27.

Fourth-grader keeps Federal Way streets clean during COVID-19 outbreak

Cody Lyon wants to be a garbage collector so he can keep cleaning up all the garbage he sees.

How will COVID-19 impact wildfire response?

Answers and resources are short in short supply right now, but fire academies are still planned.

Gov. Jay Inslee is pictured March 28 at a field hospital set up at the CenturyLink Field Event Center to address non-COVID-19 medical needs. (Photo courtesy of Jay Inslee’s Twitter feed)
Gov. Inslee warns of stepped-up ‘stay home’ enforcement

“Thousands of calls” from residents concerned about businesses and people not following restrictions.

6 deaths so far in Kent, 4 in Renton, 3 in Auburn from COVID-19

Latest King County results from Public Health—Seattle & King County

Members of Puget Sound Fire who will be staffed at the first responder testing site in Covington received additional training last week. Photo courtesy of Capt. Joe Root
COVID-19 testing site for first responders to open in Covington this week

Testing is by appointment only and not open to the general public.

Property tax deadline extended to June

This only affects those who pay their property taxes themselves.

A 3-year-old boy suffered serious injuries as a passenger in this car that crashed early Monday along Interstate 5 in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, State Patrol
3-year-old boy seriously injured in Kent crash

Single-car wreck along Interstate 5 early Monday morning

Most Read