So, taking care of yourself off duty is just as important as in the station or on a call. Go easy with the alcohol. SMOKING IS BAD FOR YOU (unless it’s at the barbecue). Get your screenings done. Stay active. Try to keep a standard sleeping schedule. And, yes, naps are okay. And, your brain is a muscle, too. Take care of it; you only get one.  Clicking on the thumbnail below opens a PDF with easy to implement nap schedules things to keep yourself in good shape for the job, for your crew, for your family, FOR YOU.

 

The risk factors most linked to increased cancer rates include numerous modifiable factors. Knowing and making small changes can reduce cancer risks significantly. For example, quitting tobacco before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related diseases by 90%. Alcohol and tobacco consumption, obesity/diet, and sunlight exposure can all help mitigate (or worsen) a Member’s risk factors both on and off the job. Stress and sleep (or lack thereof) also play a factor.

Your occupational exposures cannot change, but you can adopt safer policies and habits to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals. Off duty there are additional factors that can increase your risk of developing cancer. While some risk factors cannot be avoided, others can be modified to promote health. Knowing the risk and modifying lifestyles can in many ways provide a buffer to the occupational exposure fire fighters in various situations cannot be avoided.

The below thumbnail links to a PDF file of easy-to-implement things to help you stay healthy off the job (and thereby, too, on the job).

Easy to implement instructions on how to reduce your cancer risk before the fire, on the fireground, and after the fire. The image above links to a downloadable pdf.

 

Fire fighters are occupationally exposed to combustion byproducts while operating in various fire settings. These may include modern residential, commercial, vehicle, wildland, and other fires that contain many hazardous substances and increase the risk of fire fighters being exposed to these toxic chemicals.

There are a few best practices to reduce cancer on the fireground, but the best way to reduce your exposures on the fireground is to wear your self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) from the start of suppression through overhaul. Fire investigators, if possible, should also wear their SCBA. It is the gold standard for respiratory protection.

Designate Zones on the Fireground

To reduce these exposures, similar to exposure zones in fire stations, it is recommended to establish hot, warm, and cold zones on the fireground. Creating and managing these three zones can help reduce exposure to carcinogens during fire responses.

Hot Zone: Immediate Perimeter of Any Fire

There are a few best practices to reduce cancer on the fireground, but the best way to reduce your exposures on the fireground is to wear your self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) from the start of suppression through overhaul. Fire investigators, if possible, should also wear their SCBA. It is the gold standard for respiratory protection.

Warm Zone: Transition Zone
The warm zone is the area between the hot zone and the cold zone. This area is not in the immediate perimeter of any fire or products of combustion. Preliminary exposure reduction (PER) occurs in the warm zone, where personnel should be using SCBA and be on-air. The warm zone also serves as the drop zone for doffing/dropping of equipment prior to entering rehab or bagging contaminated PPE and equipment. Nourishment should not occur in the warm zone in order to decrease ingestion of carcinogens.

Cold Zone: Non-Hazardous Area
The cold zone is any area outside of the hot and warm zones. It is also the control zone of an incident that contains the command post and other support functions as deemed necessary. The cold zone will ideally be located uphill and upwind from the fire scene. Rehabilitation or rehab should be located in the cold zone. Nourishment should occur in the rehabilitation area or the cold zone.

Preliminary Exposure Reduction and Bagging Gear

  • Preliminary exposure reduction (PER) reduces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) by 85% on PPE and equipment. PER also drastically decreases a firefighter’s exposure to contaminants on their gear and equipment that may continue to off-gas or may become airborne as you travel back to the station.
  • Anyone, including fire investigators, who are exposed to products of combustion need to go through PER.
  • Prior to doffing firefighting gear, PER should be performed to remove potentially harmful contaminants, which is outlined in NFPA 1500 and 1851.
  • Wet wipes should be used to wipe all areas of exposed skin.
  • Tools and equipment should be cleaned at the scene.

Fire fighter occupational cancer is the leading cause of line-of-duty death in the fire service.

At the 2023 IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial, 63% of the names added to the wall were members who had died from occupational cancer.

In partnership with the Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN), the IAFF has designated January as Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month to provide fire fighters the necessary tools and guidance to develop life-saving protocols for cancer prevention and to support those with a cancer diagnosis within their departments.

Bringing increased public awareness to occupational cancer in the fire service will help generate greater legislative support for states and provinces to establish presumptive disabilities for all cancers affecting fire fighters.

 

In response to the new and evolving hazard for the fire service, the International Association of Fire Fighters partnered with UL Solutions and UL Fire Safety Research Institute to conduct a series of large-scale tests sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The test series was designed to characterize the challenges for fire fighters responding to fires involving residential energy storage systems with a focus on developing size-up and tactical considerations to support the fire service in navigating the modern fireground.

REPORT LINK HERE (OPENS IN NEW WINDOW)

Local 2818 Challenge Coins are now available for purchase. $10.00 each. Contact Ryan Judy at Station 133.