Improving the Health & Safety of all Emergency Responders

Cancer prevention, protection for fire service personnel

Chief fire officers are just beginning to understand the magnitude of cancer in the fire service and the challenges to more effectively apply risk control techniques

May 23, 2017

By Dr. Bill Jenaway

When emergency responders sign up to assist local fire and rescue services, often the last thing on their mind is the fact that they could be injured, contract a chronic illness, miss time at work or even be killed. Despite what volunteers may initially think, this is a very real possibility of illness or injury while firefighting.

Chief officers of emergency service organizations have to be aware of exposures, controls and protection methods necessary to keep responders as safe as possible and ensure that they are able to respond at the top of their game. When it comes to the risk of cancer, however, many chief officers do not have training or a deep level of understanding. Despite this fact, firefighter cancer has come to be viewed as more impactful than any other safety issue fire service personnel face.

The hazard of cancer to firefighters

Firefighter cancer is a looming potential catastrophe for each and every firefighter – volunteer or paid – and their organization. Cancer is considered to be the most dangerous and unrecognized threat to the health and safety of our nation’s firefighters.

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