According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network,"Cancer has become the most dangerous threat to the health and safety of America's firefighters." How bad is it?
- Cancer is the leading cause of firefighter line-of-duty deaths in the United States (PDF).
- A firefighter from Boston gets a cancer diagnosis about every 2 and a half to three weeks.
- In a recent and ongoing US Center for Disease Control (CDC) study it was found that firefighters had more cancer deaths and cancer cases than expected (PDF)
The statistics and stories are sobering. The risks firefighters take on every call seem obvious, yet the most devastating and dangerous risks they encounter attack the body from the inside where they can't be seen. A recent FireSled training video shows how fitness and physical health are critical for firefighters to do their job as well as protecting themselves and victims of fire from imminent danger. A firefighter's training program rivals that of any professional athlete.
According to the Fire Industry Symposium the immediate actions firefighters can take to protect includes the use of "body wipes" to “remove as much soot as possible from the head, neck, jaw, throat, underarms and hands immediately while still on the scene.
The importance of this gross decontamination process is exemplified in the following video link (at the 3:30 mark). Please watch, share and thank the next firefighter you see for their service.