Firefighting is a dangerous profession, and a growing body of research and data shows the contributions that job-related exposures have in chronic illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently undertook two large studies focused on firefighter cancer and concluded that firefighters face a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnoses, and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths, compared to the general population in the U.S.
Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control
It is well understood that firefighters are exposed to contaminants, those contaminants soil firefighter PPE, and the soiled PPE cross-contaminates everything it comes in contact with. As a consequence, turnout clothing is being cleaned more frequently; however, it is still not known if current or new cleaning procedures adequately remove such contaminants from PPE.
The NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation's project, "Validation of Cleaning Procedures for Fire Fighter Personal Protective Equipment" is borne out of concerns from the fire service stakeholder community for contamination that may adversely impact long term health and wellness. The fundamental questions being asked are “How clean is clean?” and “How do I know my gear is clean?”
- On July 7, 2018, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act (H.R. 931) was was signed by the president and became public law. This bill requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain a voluntary registry of firefighters to collect history and occupational information that can be linked to existing data in state cancer registries. The registry must be used to improve monitoring of cancer among firefighters and to collect and publish epidemiological information regarding cancer among firefighters. H.R. 931 was introduced on February 7, 2017 by U.S. Representative Chris Collins (R-NY) and 186 co-sponsors.
From NFPA Journal®
Facing Cancer: As the nation’s fire service acknowledges the toll the disease is taking on its ranks, Boston emerges as a leader in establishing practices to protect firefighters against cancer, May/June 2017
Cancer awareness with the Boston Fire Department
Boston Fire Department story of how cancer has impacted them. Commissioner Joseph Finn and his members share their personal stories and memories of those who have been lost to occupational cancer.
From the National Volunteer Fire Council
In this video from NVFC: cancer is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous threats to firefighters. Make smart choices and utilize best practices to reduce your risk. Learn more at: www.nvfc.org/servestrong