Firefighters with SCBA

Home Fire Sprinklers Can Help Protect Firefighters Health and Safety

Home fire sprinklers are proven to be extremely effective in reducing loss of life and property from fires. However, home fire sprinklers can also help prevent cancer in firefighters. Cancer rates in fire fighters is tragically high. Two studies from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health prove this, finding that:

  • Firefighters face a nine percent increase in cancer diagnosis.
  • Firefighters also face a 14 percent increase in cancer related deaths compared to the general US population.

By reducing the number of fires that break out, home fire sprinklers can help reduce cancer rates in firefighters. Mike O’Brian, a fire chief from the Brighton Area Fire Authority and the Fire and Life Safety Section Director at the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), sat down with Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) president, Lorraine Carli, to talk more about this subject as a part of a video series created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of HFSC.

O’Brian was quick to mention that fire fighter cancer is a serious issue among all fire departments. “There doesn’t seem to be a day or week that goes by that we don’t hear about some organization who either lost a firefighter from a related on the job style cancer or struggling with the battle,” O’Brian said. To help combat this, his main objective is to get as many home fire sprinklers in as many homes as possible.

Every day, firefighters put their health and safety on the line and are sometimes required to battle aggressive fires. However, O’Brian notes that if home fire sprinklers are installed and stop a fire before it starts or keeps one small, firefighter’s health will be preserved as the sprinklers have eliminated or significantly reduced their exposure to carcinogens.

As a fire chief, “We want to make sure, when we truly say, ‘I want my firefighters to go home at the end of the day,’ it’s beyond that current incident,” O’Brian said. “I want them to go home at the end of their career and have a great life.”

Listen to the full interview with O’Brian and Carli to learn more about how home fire sprinklers can prevent fire fighter cancer:

If you missed any of the previous interviews, including Carli’s most recent discussion with Amy Acton, the CEO of The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, find the full video series on HFSC’s website.  

Help NFPA and HFSC celebrate its 25th anniversary this year; share the facts about the affordability, reliability, and effective protection of home fire sprinklers. For additional information, visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative websites.

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Matt Levin
Matthew Levin
NFPA Public Affairs Intern

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