BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Firefighters work 24/7, 365 days a year and their job comes with a severe cancer risk.

“This particular profession, unfortunately, has about a 9% higher probability of contracting cancer than you or I,” CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said. “So we are trying to create greater awareness, getting more proactive with best practices in order to minimize the chance of our brave first responders contracting cancer.”

To raise awareness, Patronis has recognized January as Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month.

“We have a number of solutions, whether it be decontamination protocols that we’re getting our firefighters to embrace because sometimes the hazards, that go along with their job, are caustic chemicals that they interface within the role of saving somebody’s life has unfortunate consequences,” Patronis said. “So we try to change the outcomes as much we can to make sure they live long, healthy lives.”

According to Patronis’ proclamation, there are over 200 chemicals and contaminants found within the smoke. Even with the risks, local first responders never stop doing their job.

“The first ones that show up in that emergency as we’re running to safety are those brave firefighters that are running to the hazard to try to save lives or save those precious memories that you can never replace,” Patronis said.

If you’d like to recognize a firefighter’s hard work Patronis said the ones here in Bay County are always welcoming.

“I love that our local fire departments are very welcoming environment,” Patronis said. “Every single fire station here in Bay County, our missile fire stations, those men and women, they’re actually they’re just charming, beautiful, happy people. They’re public servants. So, I encourage you, go bake some cookies, go by and see them go to say thank you.”

According to the International Association of Firefighters, occupation-related cancer is now the leading cause of death among firefighters.