A Western North Carolina firefighter who died after a battle with cancer died in the line of duty, according to a ruling by official agency looking into her death. The Asheville Fire Department announced today (Monday) the ruling by the North Carolina Industrial Commission that Assistant Fire Marshal Karen Shuart’s death was a line of duty death. Shuart died Jan. 31 after serving 25 years with the Asheville Fire Department.
It is the third ruling of its kind in North Carolina history, two of which involved Asheville firefighters, according to Kelley Klope, public information officer for the Asheville Fire Department. “This ruling validates the growing crisis of the increase in cancer among firefighters which is now the leading cause of death,” Klope said. “This ruling is a huge step for the fire service and is also beneficial for Karen’s family.”
“This ruling significantly honors Karen and the sacrifice that she made serving our community as a firefighter,” Fire Chief Scott Burnette said. “This also ensures that her courageous battle did not end with her passing, but instead will continue to protect firefighters from the cancer risks that they face daily.”