Each year, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) join for Firefighter Safety Stand Down Week, an event designed to promote health, safety, and survival topics for fire and emergency services personnel. The 2019 theme focuses on decreasing on-the-job risks of cancer and takes place June 16 to 22. Fire and emergency services employees are encouraged to participate with health and safety training and education throughout the week, with webinars and other events.
Cancer Rates for Firefighters
A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study of 30,000 firefighters revealed higher rates for certain types of cancer when compared to the U.S. general population. These included urinary, oral, digestive, and respiratory cancers. There were also close to two times as many incidences of malignant mesothelioma, which is caused by asbestos exposure. The chances for leukemia and lung cancer were also high, and increased with the amount of time spent fighting fires and the amount of fire runs.
An NVFC press release emphasized the necessity of educating firefighters about exposure to carcinogens, which can lead to these work-related cancers. The event aims to arm firefighters, coworkers, first responders, and physicians with the most up-to-date information, including ways to limit exposure. It also provides resources and best practices about how to reduce cancer risks.
The Lavender Ribbon Report
The NVFC and IAFC released the Lavender Ribbon Report last year, which outlines practices that can help prevent cancer in firefighters. Several practices focus on wearing the proper protective equipment, including a self-contained breathing apparatus. Firefighters are also directed to change out of and thoroughly wash any clothing worn during exposure to contaminants and combustion products. The clothes should be isolated within trash bags if they cannot be washed right away. Other practices include not using tobacco products, conducting annual physicals, and documenting any chemical or fire exposures in writing.
More Support for Firefighters
Last July, President Trump signed the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act into law. This bipartisan legislation created a voluntary registry, designed to aid with research that may help reduce firefighters’ cancer risks. A month later, the Senate passed their amendment that could provide one million dollars to fund it.
The Safety Stand Down website offers numerous resources for this year’s event, including a report on firefighter hoods, guides for implementing standards, posters, healthcare provider information for firefighter physicals, videos, event planning assistance, and virtual classrooms.
Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP Support Firefighters and Emergency Medical Personnel
If exposure to work hazards has led to your cancer or other disease diagnosis, the Cherry Hill workers’ compensation lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP can help. For experienced legal guidance, call us at 856-761-3773 or complete an online form today. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including the City of Camden.