Josh Carney, a Battalion Chief with Midway Fire Rescue in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, was just 41 years old when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma cancer in June 2017. This aggressive cancer claimed Josh’s life four months later. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Lillian, his 17-year-old daughter, Shayla, and many family members and friends.
Since he was a little boy, Josh knew he wanted to be a firefighter. He started his career with his best friend in North Haven, Connecticut as a volunteer firefighter. Right out of high school, Carney joined the United States Air Force and served as a firefighter at Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington D.C. before joining Midway Fire Rescue.
Josh was well respected. He was a firefighter that many looked up to, not just because he was tall, but because of the drive and dedication he had to Midway Fire Rescue, and to his brothers and sisters. While he understood the well-known risks of being a firefighter, what Carney and his family didn’t understand was the hidden danger of firefighter occupational cancer. His diagnosis stemmed from his nearly two-decade career as a firefighter.
To continue Josh’s legacy, his family, particularly his wife, Lillian and his cousin Kristine Munck, have made it their mission to raise awareness of firefighter occupational cancer. They want to keep his brothers and sisters safe so they don’t suffer the same fate. Lillian 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."
Knowing how important taking steps to prevent cancer is, one of Josh’s firefighter brothers introduced Kristine to Responder Wipes, which his department was using to decontaminate on-scene. His cousin, Kristine Munck, worked to raise funds to purchase Responder Wipes, on-scene decontamination wipes, and donate them to the North Haven, Connecticut Fire Department. North Haven FD, a combination career and volunteer department, is the family’s hometown department, where Josh started his career, and where his best friend is still a firefighter. Kristine 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 BC Carney, they partnered with the Carney family to launch the “Carney Strong” Initiative. Working through the non-profit “Brothers Helping Brothers,” the initiative will select one volunteer or small municipal fire department each month through the end of the year to provide decontamination products and cancer prevention and educational materials to.
In addition to Responder Wipes providing decontamination wipes, Solutions Safety Products and Services will participate by donating CitroSqueeze gear cleaner and SC-14 tool and equipment cleaner. Last Line of Cancer Defense will be donating activated charcoal soap to use when showering after a fire and Overhaul, a natural supplement to aid in the detoxification after exposure.
The Carney family’s hope is that Josh’s legacy will live on through the firefighters and departments they bring cancer awareness and prevention tools to. Together these partners believe in mitigating the firefighter occupational cancer risk to ensure that everyone goes home.