Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month Promotes Healthy Lifestyle

Jan. 5, 2024
The fire service is focused on raising awareness of cancer - a leading cause of firefighter deaths - throughout January.

January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month and designed to put a focus on reducing firefighter exposures to cancer-causing carcinogens on and off the fireground. 

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death for both active and retired firefighters.

Compared to the general population, firefighters have a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer, according to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network. The toll from the job also means a nine percent higher chance of being diagnosed with cancer over the general population.

In his editorial this month, editor Peter Matthews wrote about the Safety Third concept as a means to continue providing cancer prevention education to firefighters in honor of those who have died. 

Also in the January issue, fire station architects Craig Carter, Mark Manetti and Brandon Adams outline the "clean bay" concept to help fire departments design fire stations with built-in cancer prevention measures. This builds on the initial Hot Zone concept in fire stations launched by veteran firehouse architect Paul Erickson last decade that create zones in the fire station to reduce exposures and contamination.

Advocate Frank Leeb recently authored an article that shared a new approach to teaching firefighter cancer prevention using the trail mix approach.

Retired Chief Mario Treviño shared his journey when being diagnosed with throat cancer. Later, taking his message to firefighter confeneces, TKTK has led attendees to get checked which has resulted in at least one recent retiree learning they, too, had throat cancer. 

In addition to ongoing education efforts, register with National Firefighter Registry to track your exposures, and sign the Firefighter Cancer Pledge from the First Responder Center for Excellence and the Fire Department Safety Officers Association.

Following is a group of firefighter cancer resources. 

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