Firefighter Safety Stand Down WeekJune 12, 2019
Firefighters regularly put themselves at risk of injury during the line of duty simply because of the nature of their roles. One rarely talked about topic is the higher-than-average possibility of firefighters being diagnosed with work-related cancers. How extensive is this concern? Between 2010 and 2015, almost 30,000 firefighters studied by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported developing digestive cancer, urinary cancer, respiratory cancer, malignant mesothelioma, or oral cancer.
To bring awareness to the increased likelihood of developing cancer, the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Volunteer Fire Council organized Firefighter Safety Stand Down Week from June 16 to 22. Participants will talk about this issue and alert other firefighters of ways to reduce carcinogen exposure. The hope is that future firefighters and emergency medical service providers will enjoy safer careers.
Cancer and Firefighters
Firefighters frequently encounter burning materials, such as asbestos, when they respond to a call. Although they wear protective gear, they may inadvertently expose themselves to high levels of carcinogens, which can enter the body through a variety of entry points if the carcinogens are not rapidly cleaned off.
In addition to accidental exposure, firefighters sometimes skip personal safety steps in their rush to complete their responsibilities. If they have been poorly trained, they might not know the proper steps to take to protect themselves from exposure to combustible materials, toxins, and other particulates. This leaves them at a long-term health disadvantage.
Ways to Improve Firefighter Safety
Some of the many methods of reducing firefighters’ increased cancer risks include changing all clothing immediately after exposure to contaminants, sanitizing or replacing equipment after use, maintaining routine physical health assessments administered by a trusted physician, and always following safety precautions. Safety and health experts also recommend that firefighters become more consistent about reporting, acknowledging, and discussing potential toxin exposure to verify and document incidents.
Each of these safety precautions, as well as other topics, will be discussed around the country during locally organized Firefighter Safety Stand Down events. Additionally, speakers and educators will talk about new legislation, such as the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act; a voluntary data collection repository to track cancer among firefighters.
Delaware County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello Advocate for Injured Firefighters
Firefighters spend their working lives making sure people are safe. When they receive a cancer diagnosis related to their job, they deserve compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and emotional suffering. If you are a firefighter who developed cancer that was linked to your profession, the Delaware County workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello can help. Call us today at 610-892-4940 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Media, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Media, Delaware County, and West Chester.