ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) – The North Carolina Industrial Commission has ruled Asheville Fire Department Engineer Jim Knoupf’s death from cancer as a line of duty death.
Jim died on Aug. 31, 2021, twenty years after his retirement. Asheville Fire officials said this is historic, as it is the first time that a North Carolina firefighter’s death has been ruled in the line of duty without their cancer diagnosis occurring while they were an active firefighter.
“This is a big victory for our department and the NC fire service, especially our retirees,” Asheville Fire said.
Firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population, according to research by the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), the department said.
“Cancer awareness and prevention is Asheville Fire Departments’ highest priority. The department has a robust Health and Wellness program with a heavy focus on cancer prevention,” Asheville Fire said. “AFD has unfortunately been greatly impacted by significant health issues among our very own members, which serve as a huge catalyst to continue our goals of enhancing our efforts to purchase items and to develop guidelines that will continue to assist in cancer prevention.”