VIDEO/PHOTOS: Monday, Feb. 27, marked a somber day in Asheville as firefighters honored one of their own who was taken too soon. The Asheville Fire Department remembered the fifth anniversary of the death of engineer Will Willis on Monday.
Willis' death was the result of occupational cancer. The father of four’s death was a factor in Asheville firefighters launching an effort to improve cancer benefits for North Carolina firefighters.
The effort led to the passage of the Firefighters Fighting Cancer Act. Now there's an effort underway to make the funding permanent in the current state legislative session.
“That would have been great for Will," said Asheville Fire Fighters Association (IAFF) Local 332 President Scott Mullins. "He wouldn’t have had to choose between paying a mortgage or paying for his cancer medical bills. But that is the biggest change since Will passed, but what we really want to do is keep firefighters from getting cancer and what we need is PFAS free gear."