Report: Firefighters Not Heeding Warnings About Cancer

Numerous studies have pointed to the correlation between firefighters and cancer, but are personnel listening?

Firefighters, officers, researchers and other stakeholders say "No."

That was just one of the findings included in a report compiled after a two-day meeting in January. Firefighter cancer was listed as a priority during Tampa 2 in 2014.

“Provide firefighters with information on steps they can take to reduce the incidence of occupational cancer – including diet, physical conditioning, use and proper maintenance of personal protective equipment (PPE), tobacco cessation programs, and other steps," the report states.

Stakeholders also said it's imperative that a single unified message about occupational cancer be established.

Among their recommendations include:

A NIOSH study that involved career personnel in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Chicago found “excess solid cancers” in firefighters with the following types of cancer: digestive, genitourinary (kidney, bladder, prostate), oral, respiratory, and mesothelioma, the document stated.

While stakeholders heard from researchers, it was determined that additional data needs to be compiled. Also, many personnel such as females, minorities, volunteers and wildland have been under-represented in studies. They also learned:

The report compiled after the two-day meeting won’t be one to simply sit on a shelf and gather dust, promises Dennis Compton, chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, who facilitated the meeting.

“We already have a steering committee working on the suggestions made during the January meeting,” he said in a telephone interview. “They are deciding how to proceed with each of the areas discussed.”

The task force report authors did a great job of capturing the concerns and objectives, and the smaller group is now working to see how best to implement suggestions, he noted.

The action plan will be presented when the original alliance meets again in October.

“I can’t say how impressed I am of the passion displayed.”

Fire Line

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