Firefighters battle more than flames in high-risk career


Youngstown, Ohio (WKBN) – January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month.

Cancer is the leading cause of death among firefighters today, according to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network. The incidence of occupational cancer is at an all-time high.

Fire departments are encouraged to focus on what crews can do to practice safe work procedures.

Western Reserve Joint Fire District Chief Chip Comstock said fire-related cancers are underestimated.

“The number of toxins in the environment continues to grow, exposing firefighters to more than ever before,” he said.

Comstock adds that home furnishings and furniture fillings are made differently than they were 30 to 40 years ago, when they were made from natural materials and fibers.

Even if crew members are fully protective gear, toxins from smoke can reach exposed body parts. said.

“Make sure they wear protective equipment at all times. Make sure they wear the breathing air system SCBA for the entire duration of the incident, even during the overhaul phase.” said Spitzer.

And after a fire or incident is over, pay more attention to great people.

“We wash smoke-exposed turnout gear and do not bring it into fire department areas where people live or work to protect loved ones and others from exposure,” he said. Comstock said.

Boardman Fire Department has a gear room with a separate ventilation system to safely remove toxins.

Pitzer says despite the risks of the job, firefighters perform vital services.

“This is a very dangerous job. Without firefighters who are willing to sacrifice themselves or their lives, they may get cancer to save others. It is selfless service.” said Pitzer.

Firefighters receive workers’ compensation for all types of work-related illnesses and illnesses.



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