Excerpts from wlos.com:

According to the Asheville Fire Department, for the second time in North Carolina history, a firefighter death caused by cancer is being determined by the Industrial Commission as a line of duty death. Asheville fire engineer Will Willis passed away after his battle with cancer earlier this year.

The fire department says this decision means his family will receive a survivor’s benefit. It will also give Willis’ children free college education at public North Carolina universities. Additionally, the decision means Willis’ name will be added to the state memorial in Raleigh. That ceremony should happen sometime in May.

Fire Chief Scott Burnette said the decision by the Industrial Commission was practically unheard of until now. He said the decision is important, not only for the Willis family, but also for the department.

This year, the Asheville City Council approved funds for a second set of turnout gear for Asheville firefighters. The department also has started new decontamination processes. They say the Industrial Commissions’ decision is an important part of recognizing what is happening.

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