By Marc Scheipe, Executive Vice President at TargetSolutions
Firefighting is dangerous. Everyone appreciates the perils of this valiant profession and the bravery our everyday heroes exhibit each time they run into a burning building.
What everyone hadn’t understood until more recently, however, was the fact firefighters face an additional threat beyond flames, smoke, and heat. That threat is cancer, which is now considered the No. 1 killer of firefighters, according to the International Association of FireFighters.
This alarming news is supported by the fact that over the past decade, more than 60 percent of the names added to the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial have died from occupational cancer. Leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma are some of the most common killers among firefighters.
At TargetSolutions, our customers often seek guidance on how to lower their risk profiles. Without question, training is critical. But this goes deeper than training. This goes to the culture of every fire department. To reduce cancer rates, the fire service needs to change longstanding traditions and mindsets around proper utilization and maintenance of turnout gear, as well as post-incident hygiene and exercise, among other things.
Many departments have recognized the need to this type of change and are now spreading the word and enforcing policies that mandate awareness and compliance with this shift in culture.