Cancer Coalition

January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month

January 2, 2023

Research shows that firefighters are more likely to be diagnosed with certain types of cancer than the general population–a trend we hope to reduce. The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN) have partnered to deliver targeted education about best practices and resources to prevent and reduce cancer among firefighters during Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month in January.

The month-long campaign includes information on safety stand downs, training briefs and a focus on prevention and mitigation, including the scope of the cancer in the fire service, best practices for prevention and skills to help survivors of occupational cancer.

These topics are reinforced with online resources, such as daily training information and infographics that promote the program and underline the importance of the issue on social media, as well as podcasts addressing the important issues of prevention and documentation of exposures to carcinogens.

At the 2022 IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial, almost 75% of the names added to the wall (348 out of 469) were members who had died from occupational cancer. That’s an unacceptable number and reinforces that notion that cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighter health and safety today.

Firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population, according to research by the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH).

Here’s an overview with some specific additional risks for firefighters noted from the NIOSH study:

Further data from the NIOSH study revealed higher rates of certain types of cancer. Based on U.S. cancer rates:

How to protect yourself at work

As a firefighter, you may be used to putting others before yourself, but your own health and safety are important too. Protect yourself at work by taking steps to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals:

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