Plum Eagle Scout hopeful exceeds goal to help firefighters

November 14, 2018

Plum junior Dylan Sutton enjoys going above and beyond.

The Boy Scout from Troop 854 in Oakmont needed at least 21 merit badges to try for Eagle Scout. He earned 51.

Dylan’s Eagle project was to raise $11,500 to wash uniforms, create decontamination bags and new shelving at the Holiday Park Volunteer Fire Department. He collected around $13,000 in monetary donations and various items from June through October.

“It’s going pretty good,” said Dylan, 17, a junior firefighter at the department. “It’s helping people that help us when we need them the most.”

A recent carnival at the fire hall along Route 286 in Plum was one of his fundraising efforts. It featured various games such as ring toss and memory challenges, crafts, concessions and gift basket raffles.

His goal is to help curb firefighters’ cancer risk after responding to a fire call.

A multi-year study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health determined firefighters have a greater number of cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths than the general population. The study found evidence that firefighters are at increased risk for certain types of cancers, such as lung and leukemia, as a result of occupational exposure.

Soot, a byproduct of incomplete burning of organic materials such as wood, fuel, oil, plastics and household refuse, will stay on firefighter equipment and skin unless properly cleaned off. The fine black or brown powder can contain multiple carcinogens, including arsenic, cadmium and chromium.

The NIOSH study of nearly 30,000 firefighters from Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco was completed in 2015.

Dylan said several of his grandparents also died from cancer, and he is passionate about preventing it.

His project originally was to have the department’s 32 uniforms professionally washed, create bags with cleaning products and a change of clothes for firefighters, along with shelving to house everything at the station.

“My first reaction was, ‘That’s an awful lot and do you really think you can do it?,’” said Dan Hamilton, one of the adult leaders and charter organization representative of Troop 854. “It was a great and very worthwhile project.”

Dylan said he received tremendous support from the community as well as online through his GoFundMe page.

He said additional funds may be used to purchase more materials or donated to the fire department.

Dylan has been in scouts for more than five years.

“It’s an adrenaline rush for me,” he said. “I just like being outside. You get to connect with this world.”

He’s part of the Order of the Arrow, a National Honors Society in scouts. People are voted in by their fellow troop members.

Dylan could be named Eagle Scout by the spring after his project is reviewed. He plans on joining the Air Force after graduating from Plum High School next school year.

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