Asheville firefighter’s cancer death ruled a ‘line of duty death’ by N.C. Industrial Commission

AFD Engineer Will Willis died in February 2018 due to cancer.

Asheville Fire Department Engineer Will Willis
died in February 2018 due to cancer.


The Asheville Fire Department is elated to share the news that the N.C. Industrial Commission has ruled that AFD’s Engineer Will Willis, who died in February due to cancer, is considered a line of duty death.


Not only will his family receive survivor benefits, but his children will receive free college education at a public NC university. In addition, Will’s name will be added to the state memorial in Raleigh with a ceremony to be held in May.


“It is very uncommon and tremendous for the fire service that this determination happened,” said Fire Chief Scott Burnette. “AFD is so grateful for this decision and we thank N.C. Office of the State Fire Marshal and Department of Insurance who assisted Will’s family in completing the paperwork which resulted in this outcome.”


The decision by the Industrial Commission is an important step toward recognizing the rising cancer deaths among firefighters. The Asheville Fire Department currently has many policies in place that help to protect their firefighters from cancer. Another great accomplishment is City Council’s approval of funding to purchase each firefighter a second set of gear to ensure they do not wear contaminated gear after exposure in a fire.


Video: Keeping Asheville firefighters safe from cancer exposure