70% of firefighter deaths in 2016 can be attributed to cancer according to the Firefighters Support Network.
Making cancer the number one killer of firefighters in the United States.
“It is a very big concern for us,” said Dave Hanneman, Idaho Falls Fire Chief
Firefighters know their life is on the line every time they are sent on a call, but their long term health has become just as important. In the past many firefighters were diagnosed with lung cancer because they didn’t have air packs.
Now, firefighters are being diagnosed with other cancers because synthetic materials in homes.
“Your couch and the upholstery on your couch that will produce cyanide gas and those types of gases even though we wear air packs can absorb into our skin,” says Hanneman.
To help combat the risk of cancer firefighters are getting screened early, wiping down at the scene and some fire stations even have separate rooms for their gear.
“They are only exposed when they absolutely have to be and that room allows those toxins to off gas out of our turnouts when need be, and we also focus on our firefighters clean our turnouts after fires as well,” said Hanneman.
From brain cancer and skin cancer to testicular and cervical cancer and even non-hodgkin’s lymphoma firefighters seem to be more susceptible to these specific types of cancer.
“We want them to be safe during the short period of time in their careers so we can help others, but they do have a long retirement as well,” says Hanneman.
Firefighters are more than 50% likely to be diagnosed with cancer compared to people working in other career fields.